The stories we tell ourselves

Are you telling yourself stories all the time, as we are?

This person doesn’t like us. Well, we’ve been perfectly nice, and so this person must have a problem with us because we aren’t normal.

This always happens to me! Why can’t the universe just let me have one good thing once in a while?

This isn’t going to end well. They are going to think we stole this. And then we’ll end up at the police station having to pull credit card records to prove we already paid for it. 

It has been very hard for us to start noticing the most recurring plotlines we tell ourselves because they are so ingrained in our experience. We are trying to come up with a Top 10 List of Stories We Tell Ourselves. So far, we he have five. Here they are in no particular order:

  • Am I doing it right?
  • They’re going to unjustly accuse us
  • In memory and current experience, nothing good happened–only bad
  • Underneath everything lies futility
  • This is a trick, a trap. They are setting us up

OCD is worried about doing it right. Mostly our angry part is worried about being unjustly accused and being set up. Our punishing part filters memory and experience to remove the good. Many of us feel nihilism.

So much of our thinking is flavored by these plotlines. Our mind does not appreciate uncertainty, and so these familiar stories help us write the rest of an unfolding or prolonged situation to its bitter conclusion. This is simplistic thinking. Our Trauma therapist would say it’s Quadrant-II thinking: dichotomies of good/bad, right/wrong, victim/perpetrator. The experience of rules, limitations, etc.

The next step after identifying these stories is to unwrite them. They are not, in fact, true. The worldviews they represent are distorted from our worst experiences and fears. Since very bad things happened to us, we expect more bad things. We want to anticipate the bad things so that we aren’t surprised. This is natural. Human nature. Survival. We are not alone in writing such stories.

So avoiding judgment of self is really important.

We are prone to cognitive distortion and so noticing that may help us eventually intercede at the moment of writing the stories. That will be an opening up–the allowance of actual experience to unfold. Patience. Awareness. Presence. This is where the real payoff lies. Life may be somewhat predictable in the big picture (wake up, shower, eat, drive, do the thing you do, eat lunch, do the thing you do, run errands, drive home, eat dinner, use media, prepare for bed, sleep, etc.), and the real living is in the details of every moment!

What sensations you experience, emotions you feel, and thoughts you have are actually not identical upon close inspection available to everyone via Awareness in the Present Moment. If you look inside yourself, such as during a quiet meditation, you will find a once-in-a-lifetime arrangement of atoms, experience, and being! You have never been that you before and you will never be exactly that you again! It is a marvel!

It takes practice. And anyone can learn to do it. To be Aware. To be courageous in the face of the scary experience of our inner world. That is where all the magic lies! In the don’t-miss-it-moments of each unfolding Now.

What stories do you tell yourself? Are they true? What worldview do they represent? Are these the stories you want to be telling? Are they getting in the way of your experiencing your actual life?

With loving gratitude for the gifts of learning from one another…


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