Photo by Noemi Gonzalez
I have struggled greatly with this my entire life: creating stories I know to be true, no matter how false they may be.
In other words, “lying honestly.”
When I experience discomfort in a social situation, I am quick to jump to conclusions on why people may appear to react in what I perceive as a negative way.
Example 1: If I am at a bar with a buddy, and an attractive fellow buys my buddy a drink and not one for me, I might tell myself: No one is buying me a drink because I am ugly and unworthy.
Example 2: If I see a person I know and admire on the street and I wave hello and they don’t wave back I might tell myself: well damn it Robert, they were never your friend anyways, they probably think you’re whack as hell.
Example 3: If someone tells me a friend of mine said something mean or shady about me, I might think: Well of course, I knew they were no good, I don’t deserve this.
In all three of these situations, I have taken the minimal facts given to me and filled in what I believe to be the full story. And on multiple occasions, I have embraced this way of thinking. Just last year, I found myself on the edge, contemplating suicide all because I felt in my heart that I was ugly, unwanted and worthless. I counted several instances as mentioned in Example 1, and used those interactions as a means to solidify my belief that I am unattractive. While I was able to overcome this dark, deeply rooted issue of low self-esteem through counseling and lots of hard work, the process of building my own destructive narrative continued into other areas of my life aside from how I felt when I looked in the mirror. This mostly came up through my assumptions about the intentions of others. As mentioned in examples 2 and 3, I was quick to assume that even people I liked or were close to still had it out for me.
Why does this happen? What I’ve learned is that it all stems from feeling like you are not enough. It’s easier to believe all your pain and sadness is coming from others when in fact it is coming from within yourself.
In her new book, Rising Strong, storyteller and social scientist Brene Brown says, “The most dangerous stories we make up are the narratives that diminish our inherent worthiness.” This was an ‘ah-ha’ moment for me, as someone who truly and whole-heartedly immerses myself into grandiose stories to help me survive. And that’s another thing Brown brings up, the reason we do things like this is quite primitive, and it is simply to survive. Our survival instincts are racking our brains to decide who’s good, who’s bad, who’s going to hurt us, who’s going to keep us safe, who’s going to betray us. It’s all a big mess of fear and crippling self-worth.
Recently, I have learned how crucial it is to actually talk to the person who made you uncomfortable. It’s much easier to blow the person off, shut them out, pretend they don’t exist, and let the problem stew and fester until your hurt feelings grow into twisted rage. The conspiracy theory you create in your head will continue to get more detailed and complex, and soon, even the people removed from the situation will believe it when you tell them.
So if you are ever in a situation where you feel like someone has done something to intentionally attack you, stop and do the following:
- Look at what you know for sure and weed out all your theories. Just simply look at the facts. You may discover that there really is no issue and no need to be freaking out.
- If you’ve gotten rid of your theories and still feel there’s an issue at hand, then talk to the person right away. Don’t let it fester, don’t let it sit, don’t let it overcome you. It might be terrifying at first, but once you’re able to get the situation sorted out, you’ll feel so much better, and the person will respect you even more for your vulnerability (aka courage).
- Just for safe measure, when you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: “I am worthy, I am loved.” I know this sounds super weird, but it’s helped me a whole lot. You can say it in the mirror, write it down, or maybe just whisper it to yourself in a prayer. Just put out those positive vibes for yourself. If you’re able to convince yourself of a crazy life conspiracy, then you’re damn well able to convince yourself that you’re fucking awesome.
Maybe there are other ways you’ve dealt with this sort of thing, I’m just speaking from my own experiences and I’ve found methods that have worked out for me greatly. I’ve found that it is important to look inside yourself to determine exactly where your fear is coming from.
Just remember babes, no one is actually out to get you. Everyone is way too busy worrying about their damn self.
xoxo Robby Rob