People lie in all different ways. I am a goody two-shoes, so mine are pretty hard to detect, usually not outright lies and I am happy to say, I almost always catch mine and confess. Do you?
I caught my dear friend the other day and caught myself in the process. Let’s call her Susan. Susan has been working hard at being happy lately, and I have been trying to show her that even though she is suffering, there is an upside to being a downer. Goodness knows there is no reason to keep around a bad habit or trait unless you are getting something out of it. When you are the victim in your life story, other people are naturally on the defense, controlled by you. When you see that, you can usually release the victim mentality more easily.
Susan wants to cop to this, but she is struggling. She is so, so busy and feels beholden to so many people and things, and she is. We scheduled a call for 10pm on a weeknight to discuss. This is when she is free.
Moments before the call, she guiltily emailed to say she’d be on her cell. I think she felt bad she would be in transit, unable to give me her full attention since I was clearly making time during a period I’d normally not. As soon as I got on the phone with her, she told me how she had been visiting her friend from high school whose daughter had a rare form of cancer. Please don’t think I am callous, but immediately I was skeptical. Susan didn’t sound all that upset. I probed and found out the daughter had been cancer-free for a while; that night’s get together was a fun, social engagement. I begged Susan to see how she had just dramatically and manipulatively painted the picture to make it seem like there was a moral imperative for her attendance, that she had been emotionally necessary to her friend that evening, when it wasn’t the case. She wanted to go out with her friends, (something she supposedly rarely allows herself) but didn’t want to seem like she was blowing ME off, hence the presentation of facts in a very distorted way.
Just like Susan, you tell yourself the story of your life all day every day and you get used to believing it. You may believe you are forsaken by loved ones, ignored by your children, surpassed by your peers or vitally needed where you are not. Please take a moment to notice how you are painting the picture, when you let other people into the narrative, and why.
Misery Poker is a fun game, that’s why we all play it. We even like to see who has it worse with the weather; think back to comparing snow inconvenience, rain complaints and now how hard is the heat hitting you? On every scale we compete to see who is the worst off, the neediest, or the most in need of free time, help, attention, pity. Aren’t we cute!?
I choose to think so, because by 10:30 I was complaining to Susan that my radio show run-down hadn’t come in yet and I had to go track it down, (sigh, eye roll, etc.) when the truth was I wanted to get off the phone and watch the end of the TV show I had been engrossed in when she called. Ha!! She found that amusing.
I hope when you can see how innocent and amusing this manipulative habit can be you, will discover that you can nip it in the bud. Nip it, not because it’s morally wrong, but because whatever story you tell, you tend to believe, and you don’t want to get stuck believing some story of your own victimhood, do you? I don’t.
I want you happy; happy so you can fulfill your personal dreams and your dreams for the world. Join an upcoming, live group coaching session via phone. You can also sign up, miss it and still get the recording to listen to later.