Do You Know Your Own Story?
All stories are made up of many, many details. Start with some of your basic ones. Write down your name, where you were born, your age, your pronoun preference and one thing you want to accomplish.
Let’s say your name is Joe. You write it down. If you have a middle and last name, nickname, you write those down, too. If you have ever had fantasy names or pseudonyms, write those down. Have you changed your name? Is your last name the one passed down through your father’s line, and what ethnicity is that name? Do you like your name, is it a name people find is challenging to repeat back to you? Do people frequently call you the wrong name? Does that mean you do not have the right name? There are endless details in a simple name. Write them all down, get to know your story better.
Where you were born is a whole different chapter. This is when you get a name in the first place. It is when you begin learning the language of interaction. Are you approached and touched with calm or anxious energy? Are you handled roughly, clutched too tight, enveloped in safe support? Your spoken language is not your first language. Your first language is the interaction with those outside you. Body language, projected thoughts, yanking, squeezing, cuddling movements. Expectations start very young. Those outside of you want something, from wanting to care for you to wanting to use you for personal purposes. They might want you to be smart or they might want you to fulfill sexual needs. They might want you to be happy or they might impose happiness on you as a necessity above all else. The story becomes complicated.
Your age roughly categorizes you in within society. If you are two, you are clumped together with other two year old kids in play groups. If you are autistic, your development patterns take a very different path, and your age becomes a marker that you are different. If you are thirteen, there are many things you are not ready to experience. Of course, that all depends on where you grow up, the era and the family you live with. You can’t accurately imagine what you will be like at sixty. Yet, we do. People often tell their story into the future. Somewhere along the way, you get locked into the story of your life and don’t know it because you don’t really listen to your story.
Do you commonly point out others as doing something disagreeable or wrong? The reason for pointing them out, is: if only they change everything will be fine. Now you have two stories, the story of why you are pointing them out and the story of how your life will be better once they change. This is a very complicated story, and I have never, in all my years, found it to be a sustainable story. Our lives do not get better if only someone outside us changes. The underlying story is one of not wanting to be accountable for getting what you want.
For example, you point at your significant other and blame them for not listening to you. Everyone wants to be listened to, so, yes, it is a legitimate demand. The key story detail here is, demand. Change the story to making a request, instead. Listen to your tones when you ask your significant other to listen to you. Do you use complaining tones, body language that blames them of being bad and wrong for neglecting you? The real story is that you feel unheard and don’t know how to change that except to blame someone for not listening to you. Wow, that’s quite a story. Now what?
Listen to your body. Tell the story of what you feel to yourself. A story that goes like this: “I know she doesn’t listen to me. Every time I speak up, she rolls her eyes and turns away. I point this out, but she doesn’t listen. Oh, wait, the exercise is to listen to my body. Well, my shoulders are around my ears and I can’t breathe very well, and my heart is beating really fast, like something bad is happening.”
Each of these body details tell the true story. Yes, you do not feel heard, and that story started somewhere a long time ago. It’s not the fault of someone outside you. Listen to yourself. Develop methods of calming that fast beating heart, relaxing the tense and defeated shoulders and breathing deeply in times of stress. If you do not feel heard, you need to develop the feeling of being heard. It’s all in the body. Get out of your head and into your body.