Taking Charge of My Life by Telling Myself a Better “Personal-Story”
I have been having trouble with some negative self talk lately, and it’s getting out of hand. I have discussed this problem on my blog before, but I am finding this a constant struggle. I have recently split with my partner, whom I loved very much, and I am still feeling very emotional and distraught.
Broken heart syndrome
I actually read an article about “broken heart syndrome” where a perfectly healthy 34 year old man had a heart attack after his partner left him. He just passed out at work one day, and doctors discovered that he seemed to have a temporary inflammatory heart disease. This was affecting his heart muscle, and he had a mini-heart attack.
Wait…you can actually DIE from a broken heart?
I am serious. Read it for yourself! I honestly have been wondering if I have this syndrome, but I feel too silly to go to the doctor about it. I think the problem has been that I have been negatively talking to myself about this situation, and making it harder for myself to move on. I have been toiling over the things I did wrong, stewing over some things I think he did wrong, and generally obsessing in a way that has made the last few weeks absolute hell.
Negative talk: I don’t mean to do this. I just can’t seem to stop.
I found a great post on one of my favourite blogs Penelope Trunk, where she talks about “Managing your image by telling good stories”. She is talking about this from a work/careers aspect, but it resonated with me – thinking that this technique would certainly work for relationships too. She suggests to talk about yourself how you want yourself to be and to focus on the future, rather than where you have just been.
Penelope says: The stories we tell make an enormous difference in how we cope with change.
I will directly quote from the article here: Creating a story that resonates helps us believe in ourselves. We need a good story to reassure us that our plans make sense — that, in [making our next step], we are not discarding everything we have worked so hard to accomplish. A story gives us motivation to help us endure frustration, suffering and hard work.
Tell people about your new life
So, I have decided to work on my inner story, and to change the dialogue to something more positive. It’s not enough to just speak to yourself, either. Apparently to really make these changes real, you need to envision yourself in a new phase of your life by telling people about it.
I am in a New Phase of My Life
(And so are you!)
Here’s what I used to say, and what I am saying to myself now instead:
|The Old Story||The New Story|
|I feel so sad to be alone||I am surrounded by people who love me|
|I have been rejected||I have freed myself to walk new paths|
|I miss this person||I am whole as myself|
|I am angry about things that have happened||I let go of past hurt|
|I am guilty about the things I did wrong||I truly forgive myself|
|He left me||We mutually decided to split, because we were both unhappy|
Taking charge of my life and my emotions
And you know what? The “New Story” is actually far more accurate anyway! I have been feeling bad because I have been indulging these feelings (whether subconsciously or consciously) and telling myself a negative story. I am now taking charge of my life, not just reacting to what comes along.
Getting to my next point
Because my story is not over, far from it. There will be other lovers and other cuddles, more days and nights, more happy times and sad. I continue to live, and I am so grateful for this opportunity to open my heart just a little bit more.