The stories we tell and tell and tell…

Are there certain phrases that roll easily and frequently off your tongue? When a particular subject, event, or person comes up, do you have “go to” phrases that you always say? Have you told the same story in the same way to many different people even across years?

Or is it just me?

I continue to learn SO much in this counselling internship of mine. When I think of what I looked like as a counsellor in September versus now, it’s hard to even imagine. And I’m learning not just from the experience or from the study or from my supervisors, I’m learning from my clients.

And I learn the most when I look at myself. All of myself. Even the stuff that is difficult or embarrassing. Like today, for example.

I left work right after an hour-long meeting with my supervisor and I felt like I was buzzing — alert and anxious, but mostly embarrassed. I’d gone on a bit of a personal tirade and what I recognized (and acknowledged to my supervisor as we spoke) was that the things I was saying to her are things that I’ve said for a long, long time. Word for word. A subject comes up and this stuff automatically flows out of my mouth. And it was not good stuff. It was not stuff that showed my reflective, empathic side. It was Dixie with her amazing ability to cleverly exaggerate. (But it’s just so dang clever! I gotta say it!)

But, oh how I wished I hadn’t said all of that.

And that’s why tonight I went to my journal and wrote it all out. I wrote about those words that I always say. I wrote about the embarrassment that I felt. And I tried to figure out why those are my go-to words.

What purpose do they serve? What is my motivation for saying them? What do they do for me? Really? Do they lead me or my thoughts in any positive direction?

You can probably guess what the answers were.

So, yes, I embarrassed myself in front of the person whose opinion of me as a counsellor and as a person has some significant weight at this time of my life. But. Maybe that’s what I needed. I needed to feel the weight of that with someone whose opinion I value and respect in order to stop doing the things that have come naturally for so long. Just because they’re natural, doesn’t mean they’re beneficial. And so I am going to do a lot of thinking before those free-flowing phrases come out of my mouth again. And I wonder what it will be like to look at these areas with fresh eyes, now that I’ve taken my cynical spectacles off.

Is this making sense to anyone?

I’m wondering if others can relate to these kinds of automatic responses to situations — hearing yourself say the exact same phrases every time a particular subject comes up. What does it look like to think about those phrases and why we say them and in what way they are shaping up?

Because the other thing I’ve learned is that every time we revisit something, we modify that experience. We change our perspective and our experience of that memory. We can do that positively or negatively. And whichever one we choose, the more we choose it, the stronger and more powerful that perspective becomes. Until it seems like there’s no other way to see it. No other way to speak of it. So we say the same old things every time.

But not me. Not after today. Not anymore. At the very least, I’m going to think before I tell my stories.

Posted in Psychology, School | 2 Comments

2 Responses to The stories we tell and tell and tell…

  1. Nicole says:

    Oh man, can I ever relate to this. You verbalized it very well and I so appreciate someone understanding what I too have discovered thanks to going through a similar situation. Growing up (even in our 30s) can be so hard. Quite possibly harder than in those painful teen years because I think (hope?) we are so much more self-aware that the lessons hit us like they wouldn’t have in our 20s where we were so blissfully unaware. Thanks for sharing Dixie. How I wish we could sit over tea and talk about this one some more!

  2. Toni says:

    Dixie – congratulations, you are completely normal. 😉

    Did you also do the thing of ‘watching’ the words appear from your mouth, then wishing desperately that you could pull them back in again in the hope they wouldn’t be noticed? Many of us have this special ‘gift for saying just what we wish we wouldn’t.

    The upside is that this is probably a) not a surprise to your supervisor, who may have been waiting for just such a thing to happen, and b) that it’s out there and you can move on now.

    (((hug)))

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