Thoughts can be so powerful and hold such a tight grip on us. Trust me, I know! My mind is constantly ruminating on the memories and thoughts of the past… which I can’t change the past. Or, I jump to the planning and worrying of the future. Why hello future, I can’t control you either.
Let’s zone in on the stories we hold in our brains. Everyone is constantly telling themselves stories. Those stories seem so true, but what if we could reframe them and bring ourselves some relief? Well, you can! Here are 3 different lenses you can pull out to tackle those infuriating or painful stories we can’t seem to let go of.
The Reverse Lens
The reverse lens asks, “What would someone else think of this story?” Perhaps a loved one told you they were hurt by something you said or did. The story you may be telling yourself is, “They think I’m a terrible friend. They’ll never trust me again. They probably hate me, and they’re telling my other friends about how horrible I am.”
STOP. Grab that reverse lens.
What would that friend be thinking of this story? Your friend may be thinking, “It was really hard to share how I was feeling because I love you so much. I value our friendship more than you know, and I want to continue to have a wonderful friendship. PS, I would NEVER go around bad-mouthing you.”
Pretty powerful stuff, huh? If the reverse lens doesn’t work for your situation I have two more lenses that may help.
The Long Lens
The long lens asks, “How will I most likely view this situation in six months?” This lens is perfect for those embarrassing situations. Let’s say you royally dropped the ball on a team project. You missed a big meeting, and let your whole team down. Not cool.
You start to tell yourself the story, “I am so unprofessional. How could I have forgotten such an important meeting? I should really be more organized and get my sh*t together. I don’t know how I’ll be able to show my face again on this team.”
ENOUGH! Pull out that long lens.
In six months, will you even remember this happened? Probably not. If you do, you definitely won’t remember the heavy emotions you’re feeling now. Take a deep breath. You won’t feel this way forever.
Now for the final lens.
The Wide Lens
The wide lens asks, “Regardless of the outcome of this issue, how can I learn and grow from this?” Let’s use the example of a nasty email from a client or parent (shout out to my teachers out there). In this email, someone goes off on you. Let’s even say it was something you did or didn’t do. Yup, you messed up and now you’re paying for it.
You start to tell yourself the story, “This really sucks. I can’t believe I didn’t do x, y, or z. I’m so bad at this job. I should’ve seen this coming. If only I had done something sooner or even emailed them right away to avoid this catastrophic mess.”
HOLD UP! Grab that long lens.
This is a perfect example of an opportunity for growth. Regardless of what happens with this client or parent, you probably won’t die. Now that you’re still alive, you have a chance to handle this situation better the next time around. You also get a chance to remedy a situation that is not ideal. What great practice! I’m not saying this situation will be fun to deal with, but it will help you grow.
Now you have a toolbox of lenses when those stories keep hanging around. Although you have a strategy to pull yourself out of these stories, it’s powerful to feel all the emotions that come with an experience.
Whether you make a mistake and can’t let it go, or you’re inventing stories in your head about a situation, there’s value in sitting with those thoughts and feelings to try to dig to the root cause.
Are there common themes that are always coming up for you. Spend some time digging into those stories. Meditate, journal, and explore. The more you know about yourself the more power you have over your experience.
Are you interested in exploring your thoughts with these 3 lenses alongside someone else?? Listen to The Marigold Force Podcast! Joel and I learned this strategy together and work through our own challenging stories in the following episode.