Updated: Dec 4, 2019
Narrative is everything. The story in our head is the literal creation of our own reality. Two different people can have objectively identical circumstances, which can result in two completely different subjective experiences. One victim of childhood abuse becomes an abuser, another becomes a healer. What is the difference? Narrative – the story we tell ourselves, and the lessons we thus choose to accept.
“I finally got the nerve to quit my job today and I’m so excited to start doing what I really want to do,” is identical to “I finally lost it and quit, and now I have a disaster to deal with,” at least on the outside. One reaction spirals up into joy and success, the other spirals down into depression and failure. “The economy is in shambles,” you’re told, and instantly you’re fearful and depressed. It doesn’t matter that you may have the best job, and the best income you’ve ever had – YOUR economy is great, but ‘the economy’ is in shambles!
The skeptic calls foul – “You're just kidding yourself!” Really? Why is the negative response the default sensible one? Watch for those who seek to distort our narrative, denigrate our personal story, eat our joy. The truth is, all the real battles, both internal and in the world, are all about narrative. And truth is the biggest casualty in these battles.
Society tells us the narrative we are permitted to have. Much of it is prepackaged. Your outer narrative is all about whether you vote red or blue, worship this ancient teacher or that one, rich, poor, the right color, the wrong color, the right school, the wrong school. Here is a book, there is a teacher, they know all the answers so pay close attention. Not one fucking time does anyone ask you what you think, where your values lie, or what is your passion. That matters not one whit. And should you stray from the acceptable, society is very, very good at putting you back in line. Your friends and family are well indoctrinated, and a team of professionals is standing by to help.
On top of that, all the stories we’ve been told are designed to keep us there. And that’s the thing, isn’t it. It’s all about the stories. The path to happiness is here, only nutcases and losers go there. Watch any disaster or horror movie – they start by singling out some people trying to have a little fun, and then visit upon them the most gruesome fate imaginable. Serves them right. Little Red Riding Hood strayed from the path. Jack & Jill went up the hill. Good girls don’t do this. Real men don’t do that.
The reality is that once you latch onto the realization that it’s YOUR story, not theirs, you discover that this is a story you can own. Suddenly, that boring, inevitable story line that has trapped you into a world of misery with an inevitable ending has zero relevance to you. You are the hero, the wizard, the brave genius who saves the world! You are whatever you want to be, and knowing this, you become this. There are no traps – only lies. There are no losers, only heroes who have momentarily lost their way. The ‘real world’ is in reality a fascinating world of exciting possibilities that is waiting for you to step into your unique, priceless contribution. You are, in fact, the author of your life. Choose your perfect narrative, your perfect future history, your own “mystory”.
Photo by John Jason on Unsplash