You know how much I like a good story, right?
But not all stories are the good kind. Some just aren’t true. And they get in the way; stop things from being easy.
I really learnt this lesson from my man-friend-who-is-no-longer. No, I didn’t vapourise him or anything, we just aren’t seeing each other any more.
Here’s what happened. I liked him. You know, A Lot. And, because I am open and have spent a lot of time and energy to get this way, I openly told him I liked him. His reaction? Because his story about himself is that he is unattractive and unworthy, and my story about him was so totally different, he decided I must be either
- Slightly stupid
- A liar
And the saddest thing? He told me all of this. So he is clear enough to reason it out, but he can’t possibly entertain the idea that the stories in his head, about who he is and what he deserves, might be wrong. Or at least, inaccurate. Or only partially true.
So what resulted was…wait for it, jargon coming…cognitive dissonance. Of the worst, head-aching, I-can’t-deal-with-these-two-realities sort. And that dissonance is one of the main reasons we are not seeing each other any more.
What did I learn?
Well, I learned that those stories in people’s heads are DEEPLY entrenched.
And that not everyone is able to see past their stories. Or willing. I also learned that insisting that your point of view may have validity is completely useless in these situations, and possibly even counter-productive.
I got to apply this new knowledge the other day, when I had a student come up to me after her second yoga class and tell me she probably wouldn’t be coming back because she thought she was just too crap at yoga.
‘Why?’ I asked.
‘Well,’ she said, ‘I have these injuries, and I can’t do everything, and I keep needing to rest, and you keep having to give me other poses to do.’
And this is what I said:
‘I understand that you feel you battle with yoga – most of us feel very stupid in the beginning. You may not have noticed, but a lot of people in the room were doing a modified practice. That’s how I teach. And I totally understand if you don’t believe me, but you did totally fine! Also, yoga is not about looking a certain way. It’s about FEELING a certain way. But I do understand if you decide it’s not for you.’
She had that I-don’t-believe-you-for-a-second look on her face. I recognised it from my man-friend. But I hadn’t tried to convince her to see my point of view. I just had my say and then gave her choice. It’s all we can ever do, you know.
I didn’t think I’d ever see her again.
But she came back! Twice in the last week actually!
She was willing to consider that maybe her story wasn’t the WHOLE story.
What if the stories we tell ourselves, about how we don’t deserve stuff, and how we are bad people, and how we can’t ‘do’ relationships, and all those other ones, you know the ones I mean, what if they just weren’t true?
What if what you think you know about yourself isn’t the whole story?
Would you be willing to consider that?
Would you be willing to investigate, and find people to mirror other, different stories back to you? More positive ones, perhaps?