At the heart of self-kindness is how you talk to yourself, and that includes the stories you tell yourself. I’ll admit that when I first heard the concept of stories, I was somewhere between an eye roll and confusion.
“What do you mean I’m telling myself stories? Aren’t my thoughts and memories real?”
Yes and no.
They’re real as you experienced them. They’re real as you see them through the lens of your whole life. In other words, they may feel real but they most certainly are not objective.
The concept of looking at your stories is one of bringing objectivity and curiosity to your experiences and what you tell yourself about those experiences. With that understanding, I was on board and now understand the power of this tool.
Here’s a simple example:
Imagine you’re talking to your best friend about an experience the two of you had together. You’re sharing your story about how terrible your pasta was at that little Italian restaurant you two went to on vacation and how many mosquito bites you got while sitting outside. She, on the other hand, felt that the food was wonderful and remembered the weather as beautiful that night.
Same experience – two vastly different stories.
It works the same way in your head. The story you tell yourself is only one perspective. When you start to question that and get curious about what else could be true, a world of possibilities opens up.
Did your boss really think you did a bad job when she didn’t say hello this morning, or is it possible that her kid is still sick and she barely slept so she didn’t want to burden you with her grumpiness?
Did your partner really think you hired the wrong plumber when he snapped about the service or is he just overwhelmed because yet another thing broke in your home?
We all tell ourselves stories all the time. Notice the stories you tell yourself and get curious. Are there any other versions of that story that could be true? Is there a kinder version of that story that doesn’t make you a terrible, awful person? Try that story on and see how it feels.