Have you ever been texting with a friend, see the 3 dots indicating that they are responding, and then the 3 dots go away? In that moment, you likely made up a story to explain why that happened. Maybe the story was that you came on a little aggressive with all those exclamation points and should have included an excited emoji instead to show you were excited instead of frustrated. They misread it as frustration and are working diligently to craft the perfect snarky response. Or worse, they have just about had it with your aggressive nature and have decided in those 20 seconds that they will end the friendship and are already packing a box with all the clothes they’ve borrow from you over the years. Sound familiar?
Or, maybe your spouse said they were too tired from work to be intimate tonight and the story you’ve made up is that they can’t be intimate with you because they were just intimate with a coworker (under cover of “working late”) and they are actually planning to divorce you in the morning. I’m sure you can relate. So can millions of others!
World- renowned researcher and speaker, Brene Brown, best known for her work on vulnerability and shame introduces the concept of “the story I’m telling myself” (in her book, Rising Strong) as a powerful tool for navigating difficult conversations and conflicts in relationships. In this blog post, we’ll explore this concept in more detail and discuss how it can be applied to marriages.
What exactly is “the story I’m telling myself”?
At its core, “the story I’m telling myself” is a way of acknowledging and examining the narratives we construct in our minds about ourselves, our partners, and our relationships. These stories are often influenced by our past experiences, fears, and assumptions, and can have a powerful impact on our emotions, behaviors, and relationships.
The examples of “stories” listed earlier, along with the hundreds of stories you could probably share with me may be comical as we look back at them and share them aloud. However, oftentimes these stories can lead to feelings of anxiety, defensiveness, and even resentment.
However, by using the concept of “the story I’m telling myself,” you can pause and reflect on what’s really going on. Instead of assuming the worst, you can ask your partner what’s going on and share the story you’re telling yourself. By doing this, you can start to understand each other’s perspectives and work towards a more positive and constructive conversation.
How can “the story I’m telling myself” help marriages?
Marriages are complex, and conflicts are inevitable. However, by using the concept of “the story I’m telling myself,” couples can navigate these conflicts in a more productive and compassionate way. Here are a few ways this concept can be applied in marriages:
1. Improving Communication: By sharing the stories we’re telling ourselves, we can communicate our feelings and needs more effectively. Instead of assuming our partners know what we’re thinking or feeling, we can share our perspectives and work towards a shared understanding.
2. Managing Conflict: When conflicts arise, we often jump to conclusions and assume the worst about our partners. By sharing the stories we’re telling ourselves, we can challenge these assumptions and work towards a more positive resolution. When we don’t share the story, we rob our partner of the chance to confirm or deny the truth to our story and share what is really going on for them.
3. Building Trust & Increasing Emotional Intimacy: Trust and intimacy are crucial components of a successful marriage. By being vulnerable and sharing the stories we are telling ourselves, we can build trust and create a deeper sense of emotional connection with our partners. Vulnerability on our part often creates a safe space for our partners to be vulnerable as well.
In conclusion, “the story I’m telling myself” is a powerful tool for navigating difficult conversations and conflicts in relationships. By acknowledging and examining the stories we construct in our minds, we can communicate more effectively, manage conflicts more productively, build trust, and strengthen intimacy. By incorporating this concept into our marriages, we can create stronger, more resilient partnerships that can withstand the challenges of life.