This month’s blog is the beginning of reflections I want to share as part of a “Life Lessons for Courageous Women” program I’m developing that is going to be launched in the fall.
My husband and I sat down to watch the news last week and were immediately hit with the dramatic 3 notes of music that signal the start of another broadcast and the words BREAKING NEWS in bold letters plastered under the news anchor’s face.
The first 3 stories were about a mass shooting, increased violence in big cities and a house fire that was set deliberately as bait for the shooting of a firefighter.
We looked at each other and I said, “WOW, they really paint a dark picture, don’t they?” as I quickly changed the channel.
We had just finished a quiet dinner on our back deck, marveling at the lush spring blooms on the trees in our yard as the hummingbirds whizzed by overhead on their way to the feeder. We shared the events of our day, mundane and meaningful moments, vaguely aware of the day’s headlines now blaring at us on the TV.
The opening of the news broadcast was designed to pull you in immediately, with the message, THIS IS IMPORTANT-life or death events ahead-so you’ll read or watch what’s being said. They spend 20 minutes on the dramatic stuff and 3 minutes on the positive, heartwarming stuff, emphasizing the bad over the good and pretty soon we begin to believe that disasters are all around us.
THE NEWS IN OUR HEAD
It’s like that in our heads. We make a mistake, and the story reads, “I can’t believe I did that; I’m such an idiot. No one is ever going to ask me to present at their event again.”
But is that true? Is it the whole story? Or is our perspective a little skewed, our brain loaded with habitual responses that show up when we’re scared, getting us to pay attention cuz it’s IMPORTANT!
For most of my life, I believed that women were not reliable or dependable in relationships. Sure, I had girlfriends growing up and in college, but the breaking news when I was unsure or afraid of being rejected was, “you can’t depend on them, they’ll disappoint you.”
UPDATING THE NEWS
That story was first broadcast when I was a little girl of 6 and was read as, don’t get your hopes up with mom, just look to dad to reassure, recognize and encourage you. The story was not based on facts, because when I did go looking for more information, it revealed that of course my mom was there for me in her own way and did the best she could with what she knew from her own life experiences.
But, throughout my life, whenever there was even a hint of disappointment in my reaction to another woman, I would shut down the relationship. After a while, it became easier to dismiss women for all kinds of reasons until I’d convinced myself that I was the only one who saw the world the way it should be-no other woman was good enough. I figured, that ought to keep me from being hurt or disappointed.
I’m not 6 anymore though and my old story needs updating. The problem is it’s been running consistently in my mind for decades, ingrained in my psyche until I was certain it was the truth.
But just because I repeat it over and over doesn’t make it true. Is there more I need to know?
The missing pieces showed up late in life when I began to meet incredible, intelligent, funny, ambitious, courageous, caring, loving, dynamic women (my daughter is one of them-just saying). As I’ve grown and matured, the reality of adult life has put more holes in my original story than a leaky boat.
THE POWER OF PERSPECTIVE
The words running through my head can derail me or they can drive me toward meaningful, powerful, and positive relationships. I’ve learned that my personal perspective and inner experience has a greater effect on me and my level of satisfaction, happiness and joy than any of my outer experiences. And I can choose how I perceive the world as I change the story I tell about me and the women I meet.
Women are human, flawed and imperfect…LIKE ME!
They are also incredibly resilient humans who despite pushback from the culture, society, and families they were raised in have become strong, courageous people who have had an enormous positive impact on my life.
PLANTING NEW STORIES
So, what did we watch that night? Our new favorite show, “Hometown” with the adorable couple Erin and Ben whose goal in life is to create beautiful spaces for people to connect and thrive through their hard work, love and creativity. I would love to get to know Erin. She’s funny, smart and creative. Yeah, I think she would be a reliable, dependable, and awesome friend! And that’s the story I’m sticking to!
JOIN US FOR A NEW CLASS THIS SUMMER, “Courageous Self Talk” and learn the tools for “rewriting” the stories in your head.