Gedankenexperiment #2: Everyday Storytelling
The mind is a funny thing. More funny, strange than funny, ha ha. Although, it can make you laugh (hopefully at yourself). And it can trick you. Oh, man, can it trick you. But guess what? You can trick it right back. It just takes a little imagination…
I’m not going to tell you exactly how much weight I gained this god-awful winter. Let’s just say it was enough to make my loosest jeans feel tight. When you are too fat for your fat jeans it’s a problem. Since I normally don’t have to work hard to stay at my ideal weight it was quite unpleasant to stick to a slimming program to take off those pounds. I felt deprived, hungry and, yeah, a little sorry for myself.
But with a little imagination I found a new story to tell myself. . .
THE NEW STORY:
I’m on a spaceship traveling to some super-cool destination (probably through some sort of wormhole) and, of course, I have to eat rations just like the rest of the crew. If I eat more than my fair share I could cause a mutiny. Not good. I think I can live with my reduced caloric intake. I don’t feel sorry for myself at all. All I can think about is my destination (and not being the cause of a spaceship-wide uprising). Undiscovered planet and aliens here I come!
My best friend and I went to Six Flags for a self-titled rollercoaster fest. If you ask me, their best coaster is Bizarro. If you’ve been on Bizarro you know it has a very slow, very vertical ascent. As we ratcheted up to its precarious apex, my friend looked over at me. Yup, her face was that classic why did I get on this thing? shade of rollercoaster white. She murmured in a quite rational voice, “Um, I’m not sure I’m enjoying this.”
THE NEW STORY:
Okay, just pretend you’re doing astronaut training. Preparing for experiencing G force. (You really can experience G force on Bizarro, by the way). She laughed. “Okay, that totally works. Astronaut training it is.” Super awesome ride commenced.
Yes, you’re right to suspect there’s a space theme involved in a lot of my reframing. But you can find whatever “story” works for you and fake your mind into seeing an uncomfortable situation in a more pleasant way.
These are both rather inconsequential examples of reframing. Let’s try something more serious.
Your kids are outdoing each other to win the title of “most annoying human ever.” Everything that comes out of your husband’s mouth seems meticulously designed to aggravate you. And, it’s your turn to cook tonight and you really, and I mean really, don’t feel like it.
THE NEW STORY:
You pour yourself a glass of wine because you can’t even think about reframing without some sort of sedative. Honestly, they should all just go away, then you can curl up with a book and have another glass of wine. You’ll throw a salad together if you get hungry. Screw them. But, hey, the wine is kicking in a bit and you might be willing to try this imagination thing. A long forgotten memory creeps in. You remember playing house. You know–when you actually believed you wanted a husband and kids and you happily cooked on your pretend stove for them. Back then you thought all that crap was fun. It didn’t feel like work at all.
Could you try to bring a sliver of that sentiment into your current predicament? The feeling this isn’t work but a choice? Can you pretend the maddening beings around you are just characters in the story? You’re not concerned about them. You’ve got your own pretty little fantasy and you’re sticking to it even if the “facts” contradict your fairytale.
Please don’t roll your eyes. Try it. You might be surprised by the results. Make up your own stories. Trick your mind. Fire up that imagination. And most importantly, don’t ever, ever grow up.