Life happens to all of us. Some things are tragic, some uncertain, some joyful, some heart wrenching, but most are just day-to-day living. And while life is happening, slowly, often without your conscious awareness, a story begins to settle in your mind.
I’ve found that people have a need for meaning and understanding. If
we can understand a situation, we can find ways to cope with and adapt
to it, even if we don’t like it. In our search to understand life and
it’s often painful circumstances, we assign meaning to what’s happening.
That meaning shapes your entire view.
Imagine a friend cancels dinner plans last minute or someone doesn’t return an important call. What if your adult child stops speaking to you? What if you find text messages from a coworker on her phone, even after she promised nothing was going on? What do you tell yourself about these situations? What story begins to play in your head?
The meaning you assign matters. What’s the story you’re playing out? “Why do terrible things always happen to me?” “Why is everyone out to get me?” “I’ll never be happy.” If you use these events as “proof” of your unworthiness and unlovability, the events begin to hurt that much more. If you believe you’re being punished for some terrible mistake you must’ve made, you’re likely to feel guilt, confusion, and even shame. If you blame everyone and believe people are just out to hurt you, the fear, resentment, and isolation will grow.
Though the statements above are very normal thoughts, it’s important not to feed them. The longer you sit in that story, the more negatively it will shape your experience. Telling yourself that terrible things happen to great people, realizing there may be circumstances you aren’t fully aware of yet, leaning on support systems to assure you when you can’t reassure yourself, all of these can help you begin to shift your view of what’s happening. It may take time, but know your worth and realize that life is not working against you.
We all go through life altering events. We’ve all been hurt, disappointed, left out, and rejected. Rarely does life work out like we had planned, but finding purpose and meaning to your life experiences will completely change the way you see yourself, others, and life itself.
What story are you telling yourself? Choose wisely.