(This post is a continuation on the mental skill of untangling fact from story

Fact: I received this text message: “hey man—have a couple of minutes?”

Story (I started to make up): “uh, oh… what did I do wrong? What did I write, say, or imply that is being viewed as problematic, offensive, or insensitive.”

This internal dialogue and my increased heart rate probably had to do with the fact that I did just get let go from a job a week ago, which involved a couple of people imbuing false intent on me that I believe made me seem as though I was behaving unfavorably and critically. Therefore, I am more sensitive and on high alert than usual. Nonetheless, I have become increasingly more aware of the following:

  1. I do not like feeling misunderstood. I am hyper aware, prone to over thinking, social anxiety, and behaving very conscientiously and intentionally. Therefore, it concerns me and causes me feelings of pressure and anxiety when I believe and perceive that I am being misunderstood.
  2. Because of this, I experience anxiety about messing up and doing something wrong, particularly in the context of interpersonal relationships.

Fact: The text was not to reprimand but to offer me a new job opportunity.

Story: I am proud of myself for immediately being aware of my internal dialogue and just before responding “I do have a couple of minutes,” I took the time to self-regulate: I took a few deliberate breaths (with an elongated exhale), and recited some self talk to counter the reactive and predictive self-limiting and fear based belief that I might have done something to cause reprimand.

I have more compassion for myself and others for the parts of ourselves that are assuming worst case scenario and so quick to brace with a defensive posture.

My intent with this self-reflection is to calm my present and future nervous system activity.

“Your actions today become your brain’s predictions for tomorrow, and those predictions automatically drive your future actions”

Lisa Feldman Barrett

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