Friday, August 19, 2016
A Better Story
There are some very entertaining viral videos by a guy who walks up to random people and says, "Story Time!" and then proceeds to make up a sentence or two about them. They are quite hilarious and always catch these strangers off guard with his creativity. In most of the videos, the people who are part of his story quickly engage in his humor and make the situation even funnier. They play their role in this made-up story because they are actively engaged in its telling and he doesn't portray them in a hurtful light.
Made-up stories don't always work out so well, however, especially when we invent them in our minds. We are all capable of writing a terrible mental story about other people and the conflicts we face. I'll admit I've even had arguments without ever speaking to someone I'm in conflict with. Instead, I have a very one-sided internal dialogue that doesn't usually go well. I'll mentally script out an encounter, expect the worst possible response, and end up making the situation more negative without speaking a word out loud.
As a story teller, I can fall into this unhealthy practice pretty quickly if I don't pay attention. It's caused relationship damage in my life and I've had to learn to recognize when I start down this very slippery slope. Even though I don't always combat it perfectly, I've learned one simple phrase that helps me keep from writing these stories in my mind. When I feel I am drifting into a dangerous practice I tell myself, "Believe the best." This puts other people in a positive light and reminds me to have an honest face-to-face conversation without making up a mental story that isn't going to help anyone.