Anyone who has read Brene Brown’s amazing work is familiar with the term Shitty First Draft. If you are talking to a child about it, you can call it Stormy First Draft. Let’s just go with SFD to keep it simple.
A SFD is the story we tell ourselves about anything that is going on in our lives. It may be about a circumstance, a person, something that was said. It is our interpretation of an event produced by our mind.
This immediate narrative attempts to make sense of the world and keep us safe. Unfortunately, the brain is often lacking key pieces of data. It fills in the missing pieces by looking to our experiences in the past to help connect the dots. In other words, even though it doesn’t have all the facts, our brain will make up a story, the SFD.
Usually it is not very accurate.
The SFD can exaggerate our fears, insecurities and shame. The SFD is often based on negative beliefs about ourselves or past experiences with others. Apparently our need to get an immediate explanation trumps the need for accuracy.
So, if we believe these stories in the moment, we may end up feeling fear, anger or pain. Our resultant actions will reflect that.
Here are some examples of an SFD:
My client gets a letter from her ex-husband’s lawyer stating he wants to lower the spousal support after 10 years due to a change in his income. Her SFD sounds something like this: His lawyer is so mean, he has no right to reduce his obligations, he is lying about his income and I am going to get screwed again. The SFD generated fear and resulted in complete inaction. She did not deal with this effectively for several months which resulted in a threat of a motion.
I recently realized that I had an SFD of my divorce. I believed that being divorced made me a failure at marriage and a complete idiot. I am in the process of narrating an improved second draft (ISD). The ISD tells the story of working my hardest to save a marriage then bravely exiting in the face of adultery and abuse. My ISD focuses on self respect and empowerment.
It is worthwhile to wrestle with the painful SFD to decide what exactly is true, and what still needs to be learned. Could the circumstance have other possibilities? Could you be interpreting things wrong?
Challenge your SFD and know that it is just a bunch of thoughts. The thoughts are optional and constructing a ISD is always available to you.