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The Stories We Tell Ourselves

 While shopping in a busy craft store the other day, a 30 something woman walked up to me as if she knew me, looked me in the eye and said “can I ask your opinion on something?” Being caught off guard  - I nodded in the affirmative as I slowly looked around for the cameras. 


She explained that she was newly married (now where was this going?!) and spotted something in the store that she  wanted her husband to buy her for Christmas (it was two weeks before the big day). She called him on the phone with her request and let him know it was on sale for that day only. He responded by telling her he couldn’t get there today but for her to go ahead and buy it and he’d pay her back when she got home.


I could see where she was going…the conflict was written all over her face. She wanted him to drive to the store and buy it himself. 


She asked me what I would do…. Hesitating for just a moment (again looking for the cameras because these things just don't happen to me...) I told her I would absolutely purchase the item, and thank my husband when I got home while handing over the receipt.  She seemed shocked - and even asked me to clarify my reasoning - while a small smile was starting to emerge on her face. Maybe it was closer to a smirk.


“What’s important to you right now? That you have that product or that your husband changes his plans and rushes out to buy it for you?” She looked a little taken aback. I don’t think she was expecting that question, or any questions for that matter.


Her response was not quick, she took her time to think and said; “I just want it, but being newly married, I didn’t know if I should make him buy it himself - you know, setting ground rules, but I guess it really doesn’t matter how I get it, and he was genuine about his offer - and I deserve it. I’m doing it!” She thanked me and off she went. 


She returned a moment later with a basket and filled it so high - she and I both started laughing. Two strangers, now connected by raw, beautiful human interaction. 


As an introvert, these encounters would typically freak me out - a lot. But I was so intrigued by this seemingly random conversation and feel like it was meant to happen. It was a reminder of how the stories we create in our minds, can cause stress and anxiety that is completely avoidable. 


Why she asked me, of all people there, I’ll never know. But I’m so glad she did. Her honest vulnerability with a complete stranger (me) touched my soul. 


My meditation mentor calls these stories: "extras". When we take any thought, add extras, which create complex, usually untrue stories. 


So the next time you find yourself ruminating or overthinking, ask yourself what extras are you adding - what stories are you telling yourself? Just by acknowledging and bringing awareness to these thoughts, you have just taken the power out of them. 


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