The Stories We Tell

I remember it vividly, a story. We were living in Michigan and I had gone to the doctor. I was having stomach trouble, which for those who know me is nothing new. However, he had a concern. He wanted to run a test to make sure it wasn’t something serious. It was a Friday night, Friday nights are always good for stories to run wild, after all its Friday – nothing can be confirmed until Monday. So, it was a Friday night and the family went out to get something to eat. When we got home there was a message on the machine. It was from the doctor’s office. It went something like this, “This message is for Mark and this is the doctor’s office. Your test results are back and the doctor wants to talk to you about them.” Click – end of message. So, guess what story began in my mind? That’s right, I am knocking on death’s door, after all if I weren’t then they would have said so in the message (another story by the way). I was scared spit less – I am going to die!! Heather stepped in and was able to contact the Dr. who apologized in the manner the message was delivered and assured me I was not going to die – the test was negative!


How often do we, do you, get caught in stories? When was the last time you listened to the voices in your head that said things weren’t going to go well? Several years ago I was taking a certification class to be a peer support specialist and the instructor said, “Everyone has voices in their head, it’s just that some people listen to them more than others.” That’s where the stories begin, by listening to the voices.


A real gift of NVC is the ability to connect with what we are feeling and needing. NVC offers the opportunity to cut the stories out or at least to cut them short. Let’s go back to my doctor story. I heard the doctor’s message say, “Mark you are going to die.” I was in a panic, scared to death. I began to think and think and think about the message and what was really being said. There is a saying, “Paralyses by analysis.” I heard the story so loud and was so disconnected that I had no clue what I needed, I knew I was fearful but was stuck. That’s when Heather was able to see I needed clarity and understanding. That’s when she was able to contribute to me by getting a hold of the doctor. My strategy kept me stuck. NVC freed me from the panic and through Heather’s contribution there was clarity.


Another wonderful benefit of NVC is the opportunity to give myself (or yourself) self-empathy. Sometimes it seems very easy to tear ourselves down. As in the story above I was very adept at telling myself what an idiot I was for carrying on as I did. I was also telling myself that a person of faith should simply rely on God and let go of the problem. To me I was faithless, scared, and acted poorly. I was really letting myself have it. NVC informs us we are doing the best we can in that situation. It also allows us the ability to check in and see how we are feeling. As I think about the above situation I am able to tell myself that I did the best I could and no one would do any differently if they were me. This gave me the opportunity to receive self-empathy and connect. I was able to go “easy” on myself and receive empathy. NVC is all about empathy, for us and for others.


So, when was the last time you told yourself a story? Maybe right now. Check in. What are you feeling – maybe fear, stress, frustration, etc. Now, what are you needing – maybe clarity, respect, community, etc. Check in and identify feelings and needs and find healthy strategies to meet your needs. In stories we can be very lost – when we are connected to the Divine within, there is understanding and compassion. When we are connected to the Divine within, the stories stop.

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