What goes on between our ears has the biggest determination over what goes on in our hearts and in our lives.
One of the biggest areas where we can trip up is when we get facts confused with stories, or “the truth” confused with fairytales.
Have a think about a time when you had yourself absolutely convinced something utterly catastrophic was about to happen.
Lying awake turning over the prospect of imminent doom played out in excruciating and panic-inducing detail. We have all done it. And then…and then…well, nothing happening. NOTHING! The sky totally did not fall in. The fan did not get hit with anything. All that worry, stress, drama and excess cortisol production for nothing.
It can be weirdly tempting to play out a worst-case scenario story as a bizarre sort of double-think mental insurance to ward off against disappointment or rejection. If we have already considered the worst then maybe…maybe… it won’t happen.
However, it’s a far easier way to live to know that whatever comes up – if it comes up – you are smart and capable and you will react and handle it. And so, therefore, you choose to wait until such time that might be necessary and divert your attention to happier thoughts in the meantime.
Look at it this way. What bedtime story do you read your 7-year-old son/daughter/grandson/granddaughter/nephew/niece? Is it a) Charlie And The Chocolate Factory or b) Nightmare On Elm Street? Right. You wouldn’t dream of divulging the tales of Freddie Kruger’s bloody mayhem whilst you tuck them up as you want that child to sleep soundly, yes? (preferably right through the night uninterrupted, of course). You want to create the best conditions to do that; you know the content you fill their heads with at that pivotal moment is key – so you choose with discernment.
It’s the same at the cinema. We know the emotional impact of a good story and so there are standard content rating systems for movies. We know how powerful those stories in the screen are so we want to choose age-appropriately and with discernment for the audience. This is obvious in the movie cinema.
And yet, and yet. We are nowhere near as careful stewards of our own bedtime story routine. Replaying the tricky conversation with the boss whilst we clean our teeth: bad bedtime story. Thinking about whether that client is going to be furious or not as we turn down the covers: bad bedtime story. Turning over the backhanded compliment our mother in law paid and worrying about how that may play out at the weekend family barbeque: bad bedtime story. Figuring out if that friend deliberately blanked us at the school gate as we have upset them for reasons we know not: bad bedtime story. No wonder we don’t sleep well, or our days are filled with worry.
And as for the stories we believe and repeat in the dead of night? They are the most powerful of all.
Make sure you choose appropriate bedtime reading for yourself.