There are three parts to this post:
Recap & Links
A Video! (2 min of Molly free-styling)
The Story-Flip Exercise
Recap & Links
Thanks to Arwen, Wendy, Kathleen, Sandra, and Vicki... and everyone in the room who co-created such an enriching space, and revealed some surprising connections we never could have planned!
Arwen brought Renascence, by Edna St Vincent Millay, alive in her sharing.
Kathleen read an excerpt from her recently published book The Mother of All Dilemmas: Dreams of Motherhood and the Internship that Changed Everything
My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry is the novel Sandra mentioned, by Fredrik Backman.
Wendy and Vicki shared separate stories but we soon saw they were two parts of a connected healing journey.
After the serendipitous share from Vicki, I read the first two stanzas of What to Remember When Waking, by David Whyte (thanks @Gwyneth).
What you can plan is too small for you to live.
What you can live wholeheartedly will make plans enough
for the vitality hidden in your sleep.
When we did a give-away of Kathleen's book, this happened. It's 2 minutes of making-s#!*-up-silliness... if you're in a rush, the goods are at 1:23.
The Story-Flip Exercise
(IMPORTANT: the exercise below isn’t to be used in situations where your circumstances are truly upsetting or traumatizing. My suggestions are never designed to diminish any real feelings you’re having, they’re intended to offer additional perspective on the situations we all encounter in our daily lives. And nothing I write or share is ever a substitute for therapy!)
At the end of the night, we did a short exercise inspired by two women who inspire me and you should check out: Martha and Byron. The premise is this; we have a tendency to mistakenly believe our circumstances are responsible for our feelings, when what’s really happening is we’re telling stories about those circumstances, we're having thoughts and forming beliefs about them, and these thoughts are causing us to feel the way we feel. So if we can create some distance from the thoughts (aka the stories we're telling about what’s happening to us) then we might have enough space to realize there are other ways of looking at a situation that aren’t as upsetting to us. There might be a different, more helpful story.
Here’s the quick, bite-sized way we played with this concept. Try it on your own or with a friend! And let me know what comes up for you.
Think of a circumstance that is causing you discomfort, something that’s happening to you that doesn’t feel good, an external factor (person, situation) that, if it would go away or change, you’d feel better.
Write it down and identify the subject and the object. Here’s the sample scenario we used at STORY, “My mom (subject) shouldn’t tell me (object) what to do.”
Write down at least one example of when specifically this situation happens. In our sample scenario, it happens when I call my mom and tell her how I’m feeling and she interrupts to give me advice.
Now flip the subject and object and write down this new version. In our sample scenario, the flip becomes “I shouldn’t tell my mom what to do.”
Write down at least three examples of how that is true, and when specifically this situation happens. In our sample scenario, I explained I often told my mom what to do when she would come to me worried about finances, or a friendship, or just needed to talk out a scenario at work.
The next time you find yourself in a situation that has you wishing things were different, blaming someone or something for your feelings, pause and play with this quick story-flip, to help you get some perspective and distance from the limited, one-sided version of the story you’re telling.