The Stories We Tell Ourselves

It’s usually the same 20 or so life events that stick out the most in my mind and then I analyze them to death. Once I get through them all, I start over as if each time when I mentally scan the memory, with more maturity and wisdom, I will somehow get the answers to my questions. Sounds like a form of torture? That’s because it is.

I want to figure myself out because when I look back throughout my entire life, happiness seems elusive. There is always this quest, goal, object, vision, drive and I feel like I am always falling short. So I get up and do it all over again. The quest, goal, object, vision, drive.

I started meditating about two years ago on a regular basis and this has helped me more than anything else I’ve ever tried. By quieting my mind I was able to become an observer of my thoughts. At the most basic level, it has made me more self-aware about the stories and patterns I repeat in my head. You want to hear the crazy part? Most of those stories aren’t even true.

I recently met a documentary producer who teaches at Harvard Law School who said there is no such thing as objectivity in documentaries or the media. I graduated with a degree in Journalism and I feel like I was taught objectivity. Who, what, where, when and how. Report the facts.

The reality is even with objectivity there are different perspectives. You were not in the fire, you were not in the building, you were not in the movie theatre, you were not in the war. You have no idea what it was like but as a reporter or story teller, you are collecting pieces of information and telling a story based on what someone else remembers. Ever been in a high stress situation? Do you really remember all the details? What our brain tries to do is find stories to tell itself that will satisfy it’s need for certainty. The brain does not like uncertainty so it will tell its own story of how things happened so that it is comfortable with the “facts” and even lean towards its own bias. So we do this to ourselves. The stories we tell ourselves are not accurate, so why do we carry all this baggage around with us?

Two things you need to do if you find yourself stuck in patterns or stories that are no longer serving you:

  1. Reframe the problem as well as the solution to the problem.
  2. Rewrite the story you tell yourself.

But what about the truth?

It doesn’t matter. You will never know the truth unless you can travel back in time and be omnipresent — so in the meantime, change the framework and the story. And choose always to be the hero or heroine of your own life.

P.S. I am not saying not to take accountability for your actions — so don’t all of sudden get amnesia if you need to apologize to someone for your actions. BUT while asking for that apology, don’t be afraid to explain your perspective and ask the person to help you figure out whether your reality is indeed, reality. It may help clear up more than a few misunderstandings.