♥LOVE NOTE – Friday September 14, 2012
My SIMU is another very effective and helpful ☆TOOL in our Relationship and Communication ♥TOOLBOX/TREASURE CHEST.
When coaching people I frequently hear them sharing their perception, their opinion, or their ‘story’ of what is going on, as if it is the ‘truth’ about what is happening. It happens so often that I decided we needed a new word to describe it. So I am humbly excited to share that I invented the word SIMU meaning:
Story I Make Up – My SIMU
Other words to describe My SIMU are:
- my opinion
- my perspective
- my interpretation
- my assumptions
- what I presume
- my reality
When sharing sensitive issues with ‘the Other’ it helps so much to be able to have awareness of and say:
– My story is__________________ or
– My SIMU is________________ or
– The story I make up is____________.
This alerts both people straight away that it is an opinion and not necessarily “the truth”.
SIMUs show up when we are trying to make sense of things.
Yet there are two main areas that having SIMUs gets us into bother in relationships:
1. When people don’t say anything, or give any input or feedback on what is happening for them and withdraw and shut down. If this happens ‘the Other’ will then make up their own interpretation as to what is going on.
What happens is we will:
– interpret or
– ‘make up’ what we think is going on.
People find it very hard to tolerate ‘a vacuum’. Humans have an instinct/impulse ‘to make meaning’ about what is going on around them in their environment. And people relax when things make sense!
2. When you are frustrated with the behaviour of ‘the Other’ and you are criticizing them you will describe them using your interpretation of the events or circumstances. Your SIMUs could be about ‘the Other’, or about yourself.
People often think what they are experiencing, or their reality, or their opinion, is ‘the truth’ when often times it is simply:
– their reality or
– their opinion or
– their interpretation.
This happens 99% of the time when there is conflict happening and two people have different opinions as to what is going on and are clashing about it.
There isn’t a right or a wrong way – just different perspectives.
The biggest problem with this is that ‘the story’ or interpretation people “make up” is through the lens/filter they perceive the world/reality through.
And it is based in their history!
Often times this won’t be the way ‘the Other’ sees/ experiences it. In fact I would say this is always the case when there is conflict and disagreements and this is especially strongest in people’s primary relationships.
The other problem is that people experience/see things more often through a negative lens.
People generally don’t choose the positive reality as their first option and generally don’t give ‘the Other’ “the benefit of the doubt”.
We need to become aware of our own bias, our view or perception of the world which is largely unconscious.
Dr. Patricia Love and Dr. Steven Stosny say in their book How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It: Love Beyond Words (or the paperback version in Australia is named – Why Women Talk and Men Walk) p.128:
“Your view of the world is shaped by your experience and is therefore highly biased toward your point of view … The more an association is made, the more it increases the probability that you will make the same association in the future. We have thousands of different associations and memories based on our past experiences.”
As an aside I do highly recommend this book if you want to understand what is going on at an unconscious level in relationships and you want to change your life!!…
They use the simple example of what comes up for people when thinking of the word DOG.
– you may think of your dog,
– a particular breed of dog,
– that they are man’s best friend,
– a scary encounter with a snarling, menacing dog,
– and so on and on.
So there’s no such thing as a DOG or any other object being “neutral”
It is perceived as your prior experience of it
And this is especially inflexible if that experience was negative and traumatic!
A very good example of this for me that always comes to mind, is watching the late Steve Irwin referring to his crocodiles and snakes in such a sweet and endearing way. For most people they equal fear, danger and running in the other direction and he treats them like his best friends as did his children from a very young age.
It’s an excellent example of whatever is repeated in the environment for children becomes their reality. And it is mostly transmitted by ‘osmosis’; by just being around whoever is influencing them.
You experience everything through your own lens and all you see is your own point of view.
You experience what is wired inside you:
– You see what you have always seen,
– You hear what you have always heard,
– And you experience what you have always experienced.
The world is what you expect it to be!
It is important not to underestimate how strong these associations are.
And unfortunately, the filters that result in the behaviours we don’t want are largely unconscious to us, and like breathing, are automatic.
From earliest childhood, your brain is formed with the neural pathways being wired according to what is repeated in the environment around you. Whatever is repeated over and over and modelled to you becomes:
– your perception of who you are and
– what you can expect from the world and the people around you.
According to Pat and Steven, citing neuroscience research:
“Once an association is made, it not only increases the probability that you will make that same association but also decreases the probability you will see it any other way. (p.131)
When you are wired to see negative, you will see negative!”
So to begin changing this, what you need to do is uncover your own
stories of what you think the world is like, especially in the area of committed relationships.
And we need to change the ones that aren’t supporting us giving and receiving the ♡LOVE and connection we want.
Question for you: What are your SIMUs/ beliefs that are sabotaging the ♡LOVE you are getting/not getting?
♡Tom and ♡Bella are a young married couple who are very much in ♡LOVE. They are committed to creating the most ♡LOVE-ing marriage they can…. AND they have this stumbling block. Or if we use the imagery/metaphor from the recent post – there is ‘a hole’ or pattern they both fall into.
What happens is ♡Bella grew up in a house where she had a very critical, very judgmental attacking ♡Mum….which with consistent repetition wired her brain to believe that is the way the world is and the way she is.
That has made her very attuned to what people say and what they think about her, and because of her experience with her Mum, she mostly interprets people as:
– being critical of her, and
– noticing that there is something wrong with her.
It is her SIMU – the story she makes up based on what she learned about herself and about the people who were significant to her as she was growing up.
Her perfectionist mother lacked faith in her daughter’s abilities. She didn’t think that she would be able to do the things that she asked of her, and when she did do things, she usually criticized and attacked her for doing them in ‘the wrong way’.
And so when ♡Bella’s husband says something her subconscious scans it very quickly looking for what’s wrong with what she’s done…..and because of the way her brain is wired very often she will interpret (her SIMU) what he says as critical statements about her when they could be quite neutral. Her SIMU’s are –
- I’m not good enough,
- I can’t do anything right,
- I’m unlovable
Added to this she wasn’t able to speak up and share about how she experienced things as her mother’s tongue was very sharp, and in her words, her sarcastic comments ‘cut her to the bone‘, so this little girl learned to shut up and not argue with Mum. And that young girl would escape to her room as soon as she could because there was no way she could win around her mother.
Other interpretations (her SIMU’s) are:
- If I share my opinion ‘the Other’ (Mum) will be so angry they will completely overrun me
- My opinion doesn’t matter and it isn’t safe to share it.
- It won’t achieve anything positive
- I can’t do anything to make ‘the Other’ (Mum) believe me or make them (Mum) happy.
And what happens now as an adult when she gets triggered and upset, is she will defend and protect herself in the ways she learned when she was a little girl – she withdraws physically and emotionally and vanishes for quite a long period of time.
This is an automatic response that is driven by, and kept in place by, her unconscious and her physiology.
It is wired into her neural pathways! This contributes to why it is so hard to change these moves just by having awareness of them.
Add to this, whenever there is conflict/withdrawal your partner or ‘the Other’ will have their own range of reactions and will have their own selection of SIMU’s. And this is what happens with ♡Bella’s husband.
In conflict people are not relating person to person – they are relating story to story.
It is also important to note that people often think that their SIMUs are their feelings and usually share them as their feelings –
‘I feel that _______’ or
‘I feel like_________‘
This has the consequence of people believing it is reality or ‘the truth’ when really it is just their opinion/story.
For example: I feel that you are selfish or I feel like you don’t care about me.
These are thoughts and opinions/interpretations.
So when ♡Bella thinks and feels what she thinks and feels, and then because of her SIMUs reacts by withdrawing and shutting down emotionally, she and her partner are creating what we call THE CYCLE OF REACTIVITY.
In all relationships it is important to:
♥ share your reality/opinion/version of what is going on with ‘the Other’
♥ own it as simply your reality / your SIMU
♥ get curious when your reality clashes with ‘the Other’ – as 95% of the time it will be about your history and not the content you are arguing over
♥ know ALL stories are important! Every time ‘the Other’ is acting / speaking in a “crazy way” that seems bewildering to you (or as well, when you behave in a way that you can’t understand how, or why you could possibly have done or said that!) think of it as ‘a child within trying to tell their story/side of it’ and no-one has given them the ♡LOVE-ing and caring attention before so they could tell their story/side of it.
♥ be very attentive and respectful and protective when ‘the Other’ (or yourself) is coming from their SIMU as at that point they have ‘slipped’ into a ‘child’ part/reality and at that time what is most needed is understanding and compassion from you.
♥ honour that the ‘stories’ make sense given the environment people grew up in, whilst knowing that together part of the gift of committed relationships is for both of you to make it safe enough to change those ‘stories’ to ones that are ♡LOVE-ing of the self and ‘the Other’.
Our task as partners, parents, siblings, friends, teachers, counselors, etc is to make it SAFE enough for ‘the Other’ to really tell how it is for them. This means we need to learn and have the ♡TOOLS and ☆Skills to do so.
– If you are partnered spend some time together reading the post and then, using the ♡MIRRORING format, share the impact and what stands out and/or comes up for you about the post.
♡MIRROR each other for a minimum of 5 minutes.
– Journaling about the impact is another excellent way to extend your learning.
Take gentle care unraveling your stories and much sweet ♥LOVE-ing to you, Susie.
NOTE: the ☆TOOLS are adaptable to any relationship and not just meant for primary relationships.