I've been thinking a lot lately about the stories that surround, inform and uphold us. Collectively, we are shaped and guided by endless stories that when looked closely, at their core, reveal the agendas that they serve. I mean, we can't help but buy right into them, line, hook and sinker as they say. The stories are designed to carry the meaning, the substance of our life, it's no wonder we identify so deeply with the content of the stories and grieve so deeply any change.
Stories carry the collective meaning of nations, politics, economics, race, gender identification, families, and generations. Stories define and mobilize us, they can rally and inspire us, also constrict and limit us into tight corners difficult to escape. Our brains are wired to create meaning, generate patterns and perpetuate the structures that maintain those in motion, stories are the beams that erect and hold those structures in place. Although of course there are endless continuous possibilities for change as we are wired to rescript, rewire, rewrite, old patterns, but well rehearsed stories, passed down through generations and collectively held, will tend to remain stubbornly in place.
I know how deeply these stories affect us, so much of our reality depends on them and so we continue to tell ourselves these stories and to generate new ones that keep the structure in place. The uncomfortable dissonance that happens when stories are contradicted, when our experience contrasts the expectations held, can create a rupture that sometimes is too difficult to bear. I often hear people speak about the challenges they experience when they feel bound to a story that contradicts with their actual experience of themselves....'how could I feel this way'...'it's not supposed to be like this'...'what will they think'...'I was supposed to do...' etc. I hear the daily inner struggle that comes from allowing a story that often feels inorganic, outdated, archaic to detachedly interpret and guide us into this moment.
We all do it, we couldn't process so much information without the organizing properties of stories. We forget however, that they are only that....stories....created by a brilliant survival mechanism tool whose only purpose is to create meaning, associations, comparisons, deductions, references and predictions in order to advance and support the survival of the species...us. This process is in itself random and extremely cost effective. Utilizing information and data that is currently available, information that has been used extensively in our neurology and that holds up through time (generations). It's truly brilliant how stories are generated and maintained, but again....they are just stories, one of many billionth of others, so in a way they are as true as any other and in this way we can infer that they're not the whole picture, that they in fact could even be false.
I suggest we try to look at what happens to us, our bodies, our emotions, the beliefs/thoughts that begin to circulate, supporting, upholding, fearing, denying, fighting or succumbing to these stories. Begin by noticing what your focus is, what's circulating in your mind, what are the stories guiding your body and emotions in a certain way. I invite you to slow down and imagine stepping back so you can begin to see/imagine the mechanism that is maintaining this story you're running, or actually running you. Observe, I suggest you observe without judgement, just observe and feel the cascade of emotions/sensations and beliefs that these stories can generate. Observe without judgement, your reaction, however uncomfortable and undesirable at times, could not be another way, our brain/body is wired to react to information in this way.
As you become aware and begin to sense a bit of distance from the story, breathe deeply in and very slowly out, again and again. Listen to yourself breathe and notice your body/mind reaching for other stories to run. Notice how your observation, the distance and space you've created from these stories and their loops, begins to shift and generate other stories in its place. Keep observing and begin to see the patterns created by these stories, keep breathing, keep creating a neutral space to see/feel it all. I invite you to keep breathing, noticing and reminding yourself that they are just stories, one of many, just a story. So the next time you find yourself entangled in a story, diminishing, judging and criticizing yourself, I invite you to remind yourself in the kindest tone available...oh wait...this is just a story.