(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:
- 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.
- 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