This is often how I start a coaching session. Or it’s an interjection after we’ve begun and the distinct theme arising is singing the blues. And I love the blues.
Flip it around, for this exact moment, and people in the developed world usually come up empty-handed. That is, what RIGHT NOW is actively happening to you that is so bad? Usually people come up with a “state.” There’s nothing happening this moment. Your greatest enemies sleep at some point. Your biggest obstacles, if contingent on a human system, isn’t actively at play while in your own mind, unless you let them. But you’re allowing a long narrative to govern your emotional state and consequently behaviors.
I get it. I’ve been down. I’ve been physically debilitated, in the ER with a child who appears to be on the cusp of death every week for 4 years, losing loved ones, systemic societal problems playing in my mind, you name it. What’s happening to me OBJECTIVELY in this moment? Well... good stuff if I let my brain dwell on it.
There is a serious power to storytelling. We revere storytellers, whether it’s a book, a show, a movie, a news anchor, a favorite station, a radio personality. But no one gets the air time that your internal dialogue does. Your internal dialogue has a monopoly. So... just maybe... change the channel.
In college, I had a great instructor named Rabbi Joseph Shoenberger. One day he talked about how among his religious peers there was a distinct skepticism about the value of lengthy alone time. If it was known that a member of the local synagogue or congregation was emotionally moving too inwardly, other members would err on the side of pestering their neighbor. “People become too skilled at negative self-talk,” he said. He continued:
So skilled that they will avoid the very settings which they know will counter it. So skilled that they will insist there’s nothing good happening to them even while you are there, reaching out, showing that people love and care for them. But. we. won’t. let them.
The final remark fell like a hammer. It has stuck with me to this day. There are people who would gladly uplift you. And you know it. And they would do it right now, if you let them, if you momentarily paused your storytelling.
So. Tell me three positive things.