“The day I’m having! I had a puncture in morning traffic, in the rain. Only to find that Thabiso didn’t renew our AA membership, he’s unreliable at times and nobody stops to help anymore in this town. I got to work at noon. Dragon boss lady had a fit. Now I just got a call from my son’s teacher, he got in another fight. Anyway Hon, how are you?” Men bond over sport; us women, we bond by sharing our personal stories.
If you notice, our tendency is to tell negative stories. We prefer to talk about our misfortunes, suffering, inadequacies and fears instead of our victories, strengths, joys and fortunes. We call it exhaling. A more descriptive term for it is wound bonding. We bond over our wounds, like soldiers sharing war stories. We even get competitive. “Your thighs l ook like cottage cheese? That’s nothing, mine look like I was caught in a vicious hail storm”. We just love wound bonding. Sometimes, in the midst of a misadventure, we get a rush just thinking about how and who we are going to regale with the story.
Although I know how good an exhaling session can feel, I would like to discourage you from it. Energy follows attention, this is the Universal Law of Attraction. Where attention goes energy flows and where ever energy flows stuff grows. Essentially, whatever you give your attention to, you get more of. Stories are attention magnets; they are fed by the energy of narrator as well as the audience’s, and with wound bonding the audience tends to be wide. Think about the last time something good happened to you, like a nice romantic surprise or a genuine compliment from your hypercritical boss. How many people did you tell? Now the last time something bad happened to you, not even something major, say your domestic helper disappeared with your Gucci bag, how many people did you share that story with?
Exhaling makes us feel better that is why we do it, but recognize that it is a double-edged sword. In his book The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz advices that you limit your exhaling session to three accounts. That is, tell your story a maximum of three times and then let it go. I’ve become quite strategic with my selection of 3; I tend to save the first account for someone who will let me complain and moan, and the last for someone who will yank me out of victim mode.
Once you implement the 3 accounts rule you’ll be shocked by how much wound bonding you used to do. The 3 accounts limit will put a heavy dent on your conversation content. Damn the Law of Attraction! What if you replace your wound bonding with happy stories of your triumphs, strengths and fortunes? I know what you are thinking, the word for that is bragging and nice girls just don’t do that. It is immodest and unbecoming. Let me remind you, where attention flows, energy goes. Whatever you speak about, you get more of. You may be accused of being boastful, but the more you brag the more you’ll have to brag about.