Topic 8 – It’s My Story and I’m Sticking to It
Unknown to many of us is the fact that our lives are the product of a story, one we began creating as soon as we had words. We came into a world that bore no resemblance to our prior existence, and we found ourselves ensconced in a fleshy container called a body. Initially, we were preoccupied with learning how to operate in the silly thing— move our arms and legs, test out facial expressions, then learn to walk and talk. Meanwhile, all around us were the comings and goings of other humans and their interactions with us. Sometimes those interactions were pleasant, sometimes frustrating, and sometimes downright frightening. We had no idea what people were on about, but given that we were being forced to develop our intellect, with that came a desire to understand. The problem was, however, we couldn’t. So each time we found ourselves in yet another confusing situation, we indulged in a version of “let’s pretend,” and we began to tell ourselves a story about what had just happened and what that meant about us and them. It then felt like we knew something, and we began to develop a loyalty to this story because we like to understand, and this story we were creating allowed us to believe we did.
A Simple Example: You have a mother who is very controlling (for reasons she believes, rightly or wrongly, are correct and helpful). Every time you, as a child, attempted to asset yourself, a natural part of growing up, you saw yourself as thwarted. You may ultimately dislike your mother for her actions, but the real damage resulted from the belief you developed about life and you in it; a belief that said you were powerless in the world. That then became your story-line that you were helpless and powerless. It determined the attitude you brought to each new situation, the default you went to as soon as something appeared out of your reach. Once you had established your story-line you then began to collect evidence to support that plot, because the last thing we want once again to experience is the confusion and chaos of not understanding. In a very short time you and your story were synonymous in your mind, and the die was cast.
Don’t take my word for it. Go see for yourself. What’s the lament you most commonly make about your life? What do you see happening over and over? Someone looking for love who always ends up with the most wretched mate? Someone who’s kind and helpful who feels perpetually unappreciated or used? Someone who tries so hard but inevitably ends up defeated? Start with a familiar pattern and ask yourself, “What is this truly all about?” If you sincerely want to know, your intuitive wisdom, a reliable source of truth, will bring it to you to see and understand.
For all intents, everyone is living a story with no idea that is so. If you believe your true identity is that of Charlie Jones or Susie Watts or whatever you are called, you are living that story. There is a way to get a tiny bit of distance between you and your story, to raise some healthy doubt, sort of like pulling sticky paper off its backing so you can see this phenomenon for yourself. Begin to notice how many times you hear yourself say one thing, while watching yourself act completely opposite. You might say you believe in open, honest communication and yet see yourself rarely saying what you feel. You may say you desire what is best for your children, but see yourself directing them toward what feels best for you. That contradiction speaks to the clash between your story and your true nature, and that is the fatal flaw in ego, the one that can show you the door to freedom. Each time you nail one of these contradictions, you inform yourself of what is false about your nature and what is true. That is the beginning of enlightenment. It’s a lot of work, but it’s a great deal more work to live from the illusion of your story, to be Don Quixote fighting the demons of your childhood imagination.
Since you “wrote” the story, you can re-write it. And this edit involves using the erasure end of your pencil. To know what to edit out and what to leave in, it helps to have some idea about the truth of human nature, however. So Topic 9 – Expanding the Playing Field will begin to show you what that looks like.