Everybody’s In Their Own Movie

I am a huge fan of training and coaching. In fact, someone once referred to me as a “training junkie” to which I plead guilty. Lately, it seems I have acquired a few new coaches to help me venture into areas I have little or no knowledge about. One such coach is Tamara Monosoff who is guiding through the world of book writing, publishing and launching. I have joined her Mastermind group and through that became acquainted with today’s guest columnists.

Bill Murray and Gretta Keene are deeply committed to helping people succeed in marriage. Though I do not know them yet as well as I would like to, my impression is they “practice what they preach.” After watching them on a recent webinar, I asked them to share some thoughts with us and here is what they sent. By the way, at the end of the post, I’ll give you information about an upcoming online course that starts real soon.

Everybody’s In Their Own Movie

by Bill Murray, PhD & Gretta Keene, LCSW

We’d been camping for a week, up through the Smoky Mountains, into Pennsylvania and New York. It was all about improvising and making do—finding a site, pitching the tent, gathering wood, finding water, cooking on a fire. I love that stuff!

Next, we were headed into Canada. We’d cross the St. Lawrence and head east to the Maritimes, camping in places we’d never been before. But rain was in the forecast. Torrential rain. We broke camp as the drops began to fall, and we improvised: Gretta searched on her phone for a hotel in Montreal while I steered a course through the deluge and into a foreign land.

Can’t you just hear the soundtrack? Energetic, purposeful music with a steady pulse. A jarring chord as brake lights flash in the gloom ahead. A fanfare when the hotel room is booked! And the fade-out as we tumble into the hotel room, exhausted but victorious.

All that remains for hunter-gatherer me is to scout the location of our next meal, improvising with what’s at hand. In this case, the hotel’s compilation of recommended local restaurants. And here we go: five-star, nearby, Indian food. We both like Indian food a lot. Score!

I say, “We could get Indian food!”

Gretta looks at me like I’m insane and says, “Are you kidding?” (Cue dissonant arpeggios.)

Rewind. In the car, as Gretta looks at cute hotels in the romantic quarters of Montreal, she mentally changes out of her grubby camping clothes and into the dress she packed “just in case.”

She recalls the only other time she’d been to Montreal, the “poor man’s Paris.” She was a kid, over the moon with the prospect of going to a fancy French restaurant, then saddled with babysitting her younger brothers while her parents dined in style. Not this time!

You can imagine the soundtrack to Gretta’s movie. The windshield wipers move to an up-tempo melody full of romance and excitement—a fantasy on the road to fulfillment. The orchestra swells as a sign appears: Bienvenue à Montréal!

In the hotel room, there’s still music in the air as Gretta searches her phone for just the right French restaurant, until Bill says, “We could get Indian food!”

Then the music stops, and our movies collide. “Are you kidding?” seems like the only reasonable response.

We had a fight. We went to our familiar corners—the ones connected to our Sticky Beliefs about ourselves and each other—and we came out swinging.

“My suggestions are never considered!” I said.

“I’m never allowed to disagree!” she replied.

“You’re being sarcastic and critical!” I countered.

“Why are you being so sensitive?” she demanded. Back and forth it went until we remembered one of our tools—taking a Pause. Gretta took a shower, and I lay on the bed.

We’ve made a commitment to use a Pause not to rehearse the story of our Sticky Beliefs, the evidence that proves the other guilty of the crimes we’ve charged them with. Instead, we use the Pause to discover clues about why we got so upset.

One helpful approach, we’ve learned after much research, is to think in terms of, “What was my movie?” That metaphor captures so well the physical, emotional and psychological bubble in which we live our lives.

For not only do we cast ourselves as a main character, we assign roles to others as well. When they play their roles according to our script, things go smoothly. But when they stray, acting and speaking out of turn, we can become upset, disappointed, angry, scared, hurt.

After the Pause, we talked about our movies. Gretta could understand how the force of her reaction would feel shocking to me, given what I was imagining. And I could understand how my suggestion was jarringly out of sync with the picture in her mind. In this case the decision of where to eat felt clear.

We went to the French restaurant, where Gretta could finally enjoy what she had missed out on so long ago, and I could improvise to secure a vital need that would leave us both taken care of.

Next time you find yourself squaring off for that Same Old Fight, take a pause and ask yourself, What’s my movie?

Ok, I’m back and I really appreciate Bill and Gretta’s concept of competing movies. If you are honest, you can likely recall several unpleasant episodes in your marriage which could likely be explained by competing scripts and thought processes. Well, now you know, and it never has to happen again if you pause and discuss each one’s movie.

As I mentioned, Bill and Gretta are starting an online course you and your spouse can take in the privacy of your own home. It’s an 8-week course titled: Stop Having the Same Old Fight (and get what you really want instead).

The course will feature live presentations which will be recorded for later viewing, Q&A sessions, eWorkbook, guided explorations, and lots of helpful tools, tips, and techniques to help you have the marriage you always wanted. The live class will meet on Thursdays at 1 pm Eastern time starting on October 19. The cost is just $247 per couple which is a bargain at two or three times the price. You can find more information at https://practical-guides-to-being-human.teachable.com