Most of us walk around with beliefs or “stories” about what other people think of us. A story is an assumption about what someone else thinks or feels about you that you don’t actually know to be true. “He doesn’t like me,” “She is angry at me,” or “He doesn’t think I’m good enough” are all examples of negative stories. These stories are carried around for days, weeks, and even years, causing pain and suffering in our lives.
Reflect upon your relationship with a lover, friend, or family member. Do you have a negative story about how someone thinks or feels about you? How do you know it is true? Have you ever asked that person if it is true? If that person was indeed angry at you, how do you know they still feel that way? Often, we use information gained through reading other people’s behavior or indirect comments to support our negative stories.
Negative stories can be dispelled by opening up a dialogue with the other person. This direct approach takes a lot of courage and can be difficult at first. Many find that they are very attached to their story. In the end, you might find relief in knowing that your story was in fact only make-believe and that the other person doesn’t feel that way at all. On the other hand, if you learn from the other person that your stories are true, you now have the opportunity to work things out. Either way you are working towards easing the weight of these negative assumptions and beliefs.
The practice outlined in this newsletter is about creating honest relationships. Albeit difficult at first, your direct approach invites others to be direct with you. Some people will appreciate this honest intent in your relationship and grow with you. Others may not be ready. The question is, “How do you want to live your life?”
Article by: Sevin Philips, MFT