RECENTLY I went to a funky cafe. I was enjoying the food and company when nature called. On the way back from the bathroom, I ran into two friends sitting at a table. I was overjoyed because I don’t see them often. They are loads of fun and we’ve always had a special bond. But they glared at me as if I were from outer space.

He nodded in a cursory fashion, she all but snubbed me. I continued chatting on as if nothing was happening, but neither of them warmed up.

Back home I went into one of my “stories”. I had offended them. I rang a mutual friend and chewed her ear off for 10 minutes, reflecting on how the last time I saw them I didn’t bring a bottle of wine, could that have done it? Did I not invite them to something I should have? Had I been too “something”? (Fill in the blank).

“This is a load of BS,” my friend scoffed. “Why are you making up that you did anything?

“Change the story. Consider this scenario: He and she were discussing the fact that one of them was discovered cheating, or they were discussing breaking up. They were sour before you got to the table, and certainly didn’t want your beaming face popping up.”

It was true. We all do it. Make up stories to justify what we experience.

Sadly, it comes from our own insecurities and childhood wounds. My first reaction is always to consider I’ve done something wrong or inadequate. But I’m not alone. I’m among the majority of us who battle feelings of not being good enough.

I remember a time when the shoe was on the other foot. A friend introduced his dear friend from interstate to me. She was lovely to talk to, and I was enjoying her company.

But something happened. During the conversation my ex walked into the party unexpectedly. I was still in love with him and nearly snapped my neck straining to see if he’d brought another woman.

I was absolutely deranged in that five seconds; when I turned back she was gone.

Ruth is the rudest person I have ever met,” she complained to our mutual friend. “She got bored with what I was saying, and just turned away looking for better company.” Huh?

The woman was intelligent, funny and engaging, but she clearly thought otherwise of herself and projected her self-doubt on to me, despite the fact I had audibly gasped and looked alarmed when my ex walked in.

We see the world through our own disempowering filters, and it’s helpful to consider that one isn’t the centre of the known universe, around which all life ­revolves.

Twitter @OstrowRuth.

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