I had lunch with an ex-boyfriend recently, and I was shocked to discover that he remembered me very differently from the way I actually was. In fact, he made a comment about me being “thrifty,” which stunned me.
First of all, I’ve never thought of myself as thrifty. No, I don’t buy lots of expensive things to show off for others. But I also live in a very nice home that’s by no means inexpensive. I have a very nice new car that’s not about status, but it’s certainly not cheap by any measure. I like to eat in wonderful restaurants and drink really good wine—also not signs of being thrifty.
In fact, while this man and I were dating, he used to complain that I was “too expensive.” When we were first dating, he paid for most of our lunches and dinners together, allowing me to pay once in a while. But after a few weeks, he wanted me to split the price of all of our meals, and not long after that, he insisted that we eat at less expensive places than my usual choices.
So I found it strange, but fascinating, that he now thinks of me as being “thrifty.”
And then it hit me: He’s modeling exactly the kind of behavior I recommend to others, but that I was having so much trouble living when it came to him.
The behavior in question is telling the story of an event, a relationship—whatever it may be that you’re focused upon—in a way that feels better or more pleasing to you.
Most of us have been trained by parents, teachers, peers and other well-meaning folks to document reality, that is, to “tell it like it is.”
If you’ve studied the Law of Attraction at all, then you know that you get what you focus upon. And if you focus upon “what is,” if you focus upon your current reality, you’ll get more of that.
Of course, that can be a very good thing, if you’re enjoying your current reality.
But if there are things that could be better (and aren’t there always things that could be better, even if they’re pretty darn good right now?), then you’ll want to take your focus off of your current reality and place it on what you do want. You’ll want to keep looking in the direction you’d like to go.
One of the most effective ways to do that, in my experience, is to change the stories you tell yourself.
Self-talk is very important. Most of us spend a surprising amount of time on self-talk that’s ostensibly directed at other people. We practice telling the story of what is happening or what has happened—e.g., why we were late for work or why the dinner we made didn’t turn out perfect or why we’re having a hard time committing to a relationship or whatever it may be—as if we were telling that story to someone else.
These are stories that are easy to change when we’re first practicing this technique, because it’s easy to spot them. It’s easy to recognize that we’re in the middle of telling a story.
The next time you notice yourself doing this, stop and ask yourself how that story feels. Does it feel good or bad or just kind of blah?
If it doesn’t feel good—in fact, if it doesn’t feel fabulous—can you change the story to make it feel better?
You’d be surprised how easy it is to change the story you tell yourself about almost anything.
Take a relationship that ended. You can call it a “failed relationship,” which feels lousy. Or you can tell a different story.
For example, you can choose to call it a “learning experience.” I’m sure you learned a lot about yourself via that relationship. And I bet you learned a lot about what you do want and what you don’t want in future relationships. That’s very useful information.
So why not tell a story that feels better and that just so happens to also be true? Why not shift your focus and attention from the end of that relationship and therefore its “failure” to the usefulness of that relationship and therefore its “value”?
After all, it’s your story. You can tell it however you like—to yourself and to other people, too.
As for that ex-boyfriend, I had been so focused on the “reality” of how cheap he was (and how he actually prided himself on being cheap!), that I couldn’t remember the things I did like about being with him.
I was telling a story of that relationship that felt really uncomfortable.
Now, thanks to his shining example, I have started telling myself a story about my choice in a dating partner that feels much better. Instead of focusing on what I didn’t like about him, I have begun focusing on things I did like—and, most importantly, on things that I would like to attract in a future partner.
Specifically, I’ve been focusing on how much fun it was to be with someone who loved to go to parties, who loved to dance, who loved to go out to eat, who loved to go and do fun things.
Needless to say, that feels a whole lot better than the story I’d been telling myself before!