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What Story Are You Making Up?

by Beth on March 28th, 2016

Brené Brown has written another great book. Rising Strong provides a 3-step process to help us rise from our falls:

  • The Reckoning is about recognizing your emotions and getting curious about the story behind your feelings.
  • The Rumble is getting honest about the story you’ve made up and figuring out what needs to change.
  • The Revolution is writing a new, more courageous ending that transforms your thoughts and beliefs.

I especially like Brené’s advice regarding The Rumble. She explains how our brains build stories in order to give meaning to our experiences. If a story is incomplete, our brain will fill in the missing information, often making things up that we believe to be true. Our stories can be painful if we describe who we are and how others see us in ways that undermine our value and worth.

One suggestion for rumbling with our stories is to use “the story I’m making up” strategy. We can do this in our head or out loud in a situation that is causing us to feel hurt. Brené gives an example of a meeting she had with her team. The meeting was running long, so she suggested they move one of the items from the middle of the agenda to the end. A team member spoke up to say that the story he was making up was that the item, on which he was spending 70% of his time, was no longer a priority. This gave Brené the chance to explain that the issue was so important she didn’t want to rush through it. She planned to schedule another meeting to give it the time it deserved.

Using “the story I’m making up” is helpful because it starts an inner dialogue, giving you a chance to evaluate what you’re thinking and feeling. This reality check may be enough for you to realize what you are telling yourself isn’t true. It is also a constructive way to start a conversation. Being vulnerable enough to share your feelings lets you speak honestly without putting someone else on the defensive. It gives them the opportunity to fill in the missing information, like Brené did for her team member.

The next time you are feeling hurt, get curious about the story behind your emotions, notice which parts of the story you might be making up, and choose to write a new, more empowering ending.

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