It's All in the Details
A few weeks ago I had the wonderful opportunity to meet Brene Brown, author of my current favorite book Rising Strong. Being the planner I am, I had mapped out several possible conversation topics. Being the dreamer I am, each conversation inevitably ended with Brene wanting to build a lifelong friendship where she would teach me everything she knows. As dreams often do, they gave way to reality when the big day arrived. I got nervous, clumsily blurted out that I had recently opened a private practice and that I liked her book. I shook her hand, smiled for my picture and quickly ran off feeling somewhat star struck and dorky.
Once I calmed my nerves I began swiping through the pictures that had been taken on my phone. When I came to the picture above I immediately stopped and began analyzing the expression on her face. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, I immediately went through a thousand questions.
What does that expression mean? What is she thinking? What was I saying to her in this exact moment? Was this after I told her I’d opened a private practice? Is she thinking that was a terrible idea? Does she think the new eyeshadow I had just bought was hideous? Does she hate my hair? Or my outfit?
Then I stopped. I was doing is exactly what Brene writes about. I was creating a story for myself. In Rising Strong, Brene explains that we are biologically wired to make up stories. In the absence of details our brains will fill in the blanks creating our own version of the story, whether it is true or not.
How often do we do this? The guy we are interested in doesn’t call us back, the person we passed in the hallway didn’t wave back, or our boss doesn’t respond the way we anticipated. We immediately try to fill in the missing pieces. He doesn’t think I’m pretty, she is mad at me, he’s just a jerk that never believed in me anyway.
What would happen if we were able to fight our biological urges? Stop ourselves mid negative thought and explore the alternatives. He could be having a crazy week, she may not have even seen me, my boss was dealing with a crisis I was unaware of.
My challenge to you, is to challenge the story. How realistic is it that Brene Brown hates my eye shadow and that’s what she is thinking in this picture? Ask yourself what the other possibilities could be and don’t shy away from finding out the truth. One moment is just a snapshot of all the details that create a story.
**Learn more about Brene Brown, Rising Strong and her other fantastic works here.