In moments of crisis, during experiences we’d rather not have, what matters is the story we tell ourself. It’s not the circumstances that do the damage, but rather how we think about them. In NLP, this is the notion of reframing.
What people often fail to realise, is that you don’t have to believe the story you’re telling yourself — knowing that it is only a fabrication, or a fairy tale works as well. Interpreting difficult circumstances to mean something perhaps way beyond the realms of possibility can do just as much good as putting a rational positive spin on something. This is the power of faith, taught to us by those who believe in religions and spiritual ideologies that can never be proven.
The first night after my husband killed himself, I had a dream while I slept. Instead of him being dead, in my dream he had run off with a blond hairdresser named Elsa and moved to Paraguay. Now I’m not delusional and I know this story isn’t true, but by imagining my husband happily living a new life rather than being dead in the ground made the pain easier to bear. Still to this day, when I speak to my boyfriend about that time, I say, ‘When Jack went to Paraguay.’ Somehow it stops my brain settling into the grove of trauma and instead I flit lightly over thinking about the real event in any great depth.
I bring this up because yesterday I reached out for help in managing my hot flushes. A lovely woman suggested I think about the language I was using and recommended I read a book by Susun Weed (what a great name). I have to admit that I only read first couple of pages on Amazon and didn’t buy it, but the story I found there totally changed how difficult and annoying my hot flushes were yesterday and during the night.
My lengthy introduction is to point out that I don’t necessarily believe what Miss Weed is saying is true, but it doesn’t matter. If I run a different story through my head every time I start to feel hot and bothered, the flashes are gentler and shorter — or at least they seem that way.
Let me share with you (and keep a record of) her take on this whole ‘change‘ thing in the hope that it might make you think about it differently too.
≈ This is the start of my transition into the third stage of life — I’m transforming into a Crone, a woman of deep maturity and wholeness.
≈ The hormones flooding my system are gestating the memories of the history of my female lineage. I am here to give birth to the past and preserve it for the future (a handy thing for a memoirist).
≈ I don’t need to control this — this is not an intrusion or an annoyance — it is a part of my life I can surrender to.
≈ I can enjoy the hot flushes, the physical sign of my metamorphosis into a goddess of creativity and inspiration. It is the hot energy of the universe coursing through my veins, teaching my body how to harness and utilise this amazing healing power.
And the final proof of the power of changing my thoughts is that last night I enjoyed sexy time without a single flush. Call me mad if you will, but I’ll take that.
Do stories (even if they aren’t true) help you get through difficult circumstances? I’d love to hear about them.