In the moment and in the midst of emotions, we don't always realize we're constructing a narrative. That perhaps we have created real feelings out of experiences that either haven't happened or don't know all the facts.
9 years ago I began presenting in schools about Erin's Law. Educating kids about sexual abuse and how to get help. Well, I had one day where an administrative assistant in the front office was, in my mind, purposefully trying to hurt me. They mispronounced my name even after being corrected, wouldn't confirm the schedule, and when I was ready to leave for the day they ignored my buzzing to be let back into the office.
In the moment and for the hour commute home, I had constructed a narrative. "This person didn't like me. They were mad I was teaching about a tough subject. I wore too much makeup. I smiled too much." On and on and on I went. When I think back on this experience, I realize 3 things:
1. I have no proof she didn't like me or my work, that she was able to pronounce my name, or that she heard me buzz the office.
2. I have no idea why she didn't confirm the schedule. It's totally possible she didn't know.
3. I have no idea what her day was like before I showed up in the office that day.
The feeling of anger and isolation was real. The narrative that I built around those feelings was all my own doing. Sure, it's possible the story I constructed was true. But I don't have any facts to back it up.
We're human. I am human. We like our stories. What I am striving to do now though is live in reality and ask myself: What can I prove? What are the facts? Does this narrative serve me?
It's funny. When I slow that thinking down...those feelings aern't nearly as powerful as they were before.