As I watched the helicopter fly back and forth over my neighborhood, something felt eerily familiar.
“I’ve seen this before, but where?” I asked myself. “What am I seeing?”
Then it hit me.
I remembered watching a similar scene play out when I was in college. I remembered the helicopter flying in a grid pattern overhead …
“It’s a manhunt!” I shrieked, even though I was standing alone in the backyard.
I rushed into the house, double-locking the door behind me and turned on the TV. Sure enough, a traffic stop in the area resulted in the vehicle’s passengers fleeing, on foot. According to the reporter, their identities and reasons for fleeing were unknown.
Jumping to Conclusions
I wondered what might cause someone to flee. My mind could only come up with two reasons:
- They’ve just escaped from prison (probably serving time for murder)
- Or, there’s an arrest warrant out for them (probably for the charge of murder)
Notice my pattern? Nothing like jumping to conclusions, right!?!
I know. I know. (Recovering) drama queen. Right here.
My scary, racing thoughts were literally causing my heart to beat faster. I imagined them breaking into our house in order to hide from the police.
It wasn’t until police cars began arriving to the neighborhood, stopping each vehicle, that I began to relax a bit.
Within a few hours, the subjects were found, identified, and arrested. I never heard their reasons for fleeing.
Maybe They Weren’t Murderers
But in the days that followed, I realized there could have been possibly hundreds of reasons for their actions. For example, it could have been that they were a couple of 14-year-olds who took mom’s car around the block for an illegal joy ride, and panicked when they got pulled over.
If so, that sure makes my murderer theory look pretty silly. Don’t you think?
That’s the point of sharing this tale.
Assumptions and Emotional Eating
I didn’t have any idea about the motivations of these people. But, I assumed the worst. I was doing that in many areas of my life, at the time.
Although that manhunt was a few years ago, its lesson has helped me every day since. And maybe it can help you too.
That experience helped me see there were times I was creating my own drama, and then reaching for food to calm myself from something that was nothing more than a story in my mind.
How often have you turned to emotional eating to soothe yourself from something that’s nothing more than an assumption?
Now, I know you’re probably not hypothesizing that everyone is a murderer, like I was on the day of the manhunt. 😉
But look a little deeper into the assumptions you are making.
Are You a Story-Teller Too?
What stories do you create in the following situations?:
- A friend seems distant and distracted during your lunch together
- The relative who always remembers your birthday, suddenly forgets it
- A client doesn’t renew her contract with you, and doesn’t say why
- Your significant other texts to say they need to talk to you about something important
In the above scenarios, even though there’s no evidence to support it, does your mind jump to the conclusion that these actions by others have something to do with you? And that it’s something negative?
It doesn’t have to.
Just the Facts
How would your life change if you stopped guessing about the thoughts and motivations of others and focused on just the facts?
Once I made that choice, my life changed in a big way. It got easier.
When I was in story-telling mode, my guesses about what I thought others were really thinking sent me running to the kitchen to find a way to numb the pain that I was causing myself.
Ending many of my stories ended my need to soothe myself against their effects.
I still have slip-ups, occasionally. But I no longer attempt to read everyone’s mind. Trust me: that makes life SO much simpler.
Look back at the four scenarios above. Chances are, none of these things are negative. And they may not even have anything to do with you.
The distracted friend … Maybe she just found out she’s coming into a big inheritance and is still trying to wrap her head around how her life is getting ready to change.
The text from your spouse … Perhaps it’s about a bonus or a promotion.
Doesn’t that feel better?
There will always be plenty of drama-filled moments. But this doesn’t have to be one of them.