Jancee Dunn misinterpreted the actions of others. Here’s how she ended it.
Thank you for reading this post, don't forget to subscribe!
A while back, I sent a few texts to a friend. But I never received a reply. I didn’t expect her to be quiet so I sent her a quick email. Nothing.
After a few days, my silence started to nag me. I began obsessing about possible offenses. She is mad that I didn’t attend the cocktail party with her. She’s mad because I told her she was too attached to her dog. You’re kidding me! She knows that I love Barkley. I should have picked up the phone and just spoken to her. But my mind was already making up so many stories about why she was mad at us that it was impossible for me to do it.
Nine days later, not that I was counting, I received a flood of apologetic messages. It was a work project that she had been working on; she initially wrote a reply to my email but then became distracted and forgot to send it. (I have done it myself in the past. She was busy. That’s the end of the story. But for more than a week, I tortured myself. And, more importantly, I assumed the worst of a friend.
Managing the Problem
University of Houston researcher Brene brown, Ph.D. called it “the story that I’m fabricating”. She described a scene where her children were getting hungry and it was close to dinnertime. Her husband, Steve, opened her fridge and declared, “We don’t have groceries.” Not even lunch meat.” He immediately replied that he could also do the shopping.
After a brief moment, she realized that she was blaming her for not having groceries and that she was fumbling up. Steve explained to her that he had planned to shop the previous day but was unable to do so. “I’m sorry, Steve. I’m hungry.”
Brown’s passage really spoke to me. I realized that this was something I did all the time. My mom frowned at me during our lunch date. I thought about it and put a thought bubble above her head. “What the heck are you wearing?”
It was my coworker who did it when she thought I was icing her at a meeting. I later found out that she was suffering from a migraine. It was my husband Tom who I did it to. He was lying on the couch while I cleaned up. I could picture him thinking, “I tricked the wife into doing all of the work around here!” It feels good! It’s possible that I even let out an evil chuckle.
Changing The Narrative
I was able to see my relationships as less secure because of this insidious and self-destructive habit. After I realized the problem, I was able to stop it by reminding myself not to be paranoid. Miscommunications and misunderstandings can be a problem in relationships. It is easier to assume the best intentions of a person and then move on.
When my brain jumps to create a negative scenario I quickly do reality checks and ask myself several questions: Is your thinking truthful or an assumption? Is there any evidence to back up your story? Then, what evidence is there to support your story? Is it possible that the behavior of this person has absolutely nothing to do with you?
Next, I remove the story from my memory and contact the person. A quick phone call is my preferred method, but sometimes I just write a message in an email subject line, such as “Are you OK?” Simply checking in, write “Yes or No.”
It can be fun and liberating to tell the story that you make up, especially when you realize how wrong-base you are. You may find yourself closer to each other. My mother was shocked when I told her that I was unhappy about my lunch outfit. She shook her head and said, “Hello, I was frowning, because we were outside, and the sun was in my eyes,” “Will you give me some credit?” “I thought the dress was adorable.”
My husband laughed when I said that I thought he was gloating while I vacuumed and dusted. He was actually playing chess on his cell phone. The truth is comfortingly simple when I fact-check my story. If I need drama, I will binge-watch Housewives.