Stories You Say
Stories are everywhere. But perhaps the ones with the biggest influence are the stories you tell yourself.
Not the critical voices you “hear” in your head. I don’t mean those. They sort of half tell stories that always have you feeling bad, ugly, and inevitably failing (nearly everyone has negative voices like that).
I mean the concepts you construct that shape what kind of view you have about you and life itself. Most likely, you will have at least a couple of stories that replay in a continuous loop, triggered by specific events.
Some might might be set off whenever you meet a stranger, or perhaps some especially attractive person. Suddenly, you switch into a kind of autopilot, as well rehearsed stories return to your conscious mind.
“Every time I meet somebody like that such and such happens. Then I do this and you can bet they will do that”. Or, “You can’t trust people from there. I did once and look where it got me. No, this is all going to end in tears”. There are as many stories as they are people and yours of course are exclusive to you.
These stories aren’t always negative, per se. It’s just that they aren’t a good reflection of the uniqueness of each situation. They are symbolic and ritualized rather than original to each situation. So they are a kind of fantasy of being rather than life really lived.
The woman who tells herself she is a hardworking, long-suffering wife will keep replaying this role in her mind along with a host of small supporting stories to keep it feeling real. Having defined her character, she has to play out her role. She dare not be a fun-loving, carefree person who dares to let her hair down and have a good time because that isn’t part of the story. As such, she is trapped.
Knowing what your stories are takes a great deal of self-awareness. After all, we look through the lens of our existing story to see and make sense of ourselves. Were the long-suffering, diligent woman to see her story not entirely real, its hold over her would instantly snap.
We all face the challenge of perceiving. Our stories are so familiar to our identity we cannot see them. But they are there, and the process of developing awareness is the secret to identifying them.
Some stories put us on impossibly lofty heights, looking down upon everyone else around us. Others leave us looking up to others and secretly feeling worthless and irrelevant. These tales are much more than positive or negative. They are life defining. That’s why every moment you have to tune into the instant you are in makes fundamental sense.
So, go ahead and taste that dripping spoonful of steaming soup. Bury your nose into the scent of a rose. Feel the breeze across your face and earth beneath your feet. For in connecting with our physical senses, we allow the possibility to identify and even question the fiction of our stories’ facts. Though it may be intimidating in the beginning, awareness offers the opportunity for a fuller, more satisfying life.
If that itself is yet another story to tell yourself, then it’s one that, above all stories, offers us thinking freedom.
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