Retelling the Story

Question your feelings and stories. Once you’ve identified what you’re feeling, you have to stop and ask, given the circumstances, is it the right feeling? Meaning, of course, are you telling the right story? After all, feelings come from stories, an stories are our own invention.    Crucial conversations, Patterson, Grenny, McMilan and Switzler

There is no question that the story fueling this situation I face is incomplete. I have no illusion that I have the full facts of what is going on. I have been playing the guessing game for months, trying to gather information to still the uneasiness continuing to build in a significant relationship. When an occasion came which presented questions beyond my ability to find the answers without the aid I couldn’t seem to get, my inner reserves “let me down” and my coping abilities deflated.

I have been taught many labels and phrases for times like this in life: ‘too weak’, ‘falling apart’, ‘not good enough’, ‘this is tearing me up’, ‘I’m letting everyone down’, the list goes on and on. Old voices of accusation scream to be heard in the quiet of this needed isolation from certain high stressors in life. My life alternates between trying to move forward and a mind freezing emotional overload that stops me in my tracks. I am not coping as well as I would want to. My inner judge works hard to assign me the verdict of guilty beyond redemption as it did so much more easily once upon a time.

The difference is the voices of others who have gotten to know me over time in a deeper way then many of us take the chance to be known. These voices listen to my stories about myself and challenge them. The same happens from new appropriately chosen voices whose help was requested in this situation.

“I would like to question the idea of you ‘falling apart'”, began one such support. Then in evidence she listed the steps I am taking and the choices I am making to try to bring a positive resolution to what is going on. “Does that sound like someone who is falling apart?” She did not deny the high anxiety that is affecting my ability to function at the best of my capacity in daily life. She did not pretend that wasn’t there. She simply looked at the actions of my life to change this place. She held up a mirror of growth even in the midst of feelings of weakness.

Colleagues have given affirmations on my work. Those who are working with me through this process continue to be present and supportive. Others, such as those on a thread in a social media site, have done so simply by accepting my stated need for the support of thought and prayer as I seek to use respect and grace in this. They honor that, without asking me to explain the situation for them to judge.

Each of these resources helps me to edit the story I write about my ability to see this through to the best ending I can find, whatever that will be. They fill the margins with hope to counteract the turmoil of discouragement and fears I have not yet overcome. Without denying the residual weakness from the past that is affecting me, they mirror back to me where I am acting forward in a way that exhibits strength.

There are many ways to come alongside in situations of stress.  The support of those who don’t need to know the details in order to be supportive in thought and action is as important, maybe even more important, then the resources on the inside who are working with me to solve the situation.  Those who can help reinterpret the facts into a story of growth and strength are powerful agents of healing and hope in times a person does not measure up to their own societally sanctioned expectations.

Is there a story your encouragement and insights have the potential of changing into one of greater strength and possibility?

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