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The stories we tell ourselves...

Jamieson Van Loan

Last week when I was in Charleston, I was chatting with a friend of mine and mid-sentence she stops me and goes “are you creating a story right now?” And I tried to justify my side of the conversation by explaining that I know the situation and person so well that I knew what was happening. And she goes, “Nope, sorry. That’s a full blown story you’ve created.” She completely shut me down. But I thought about it and had to agree. I was basing my future prediction on my past and what I think I know but the reality is we never no anything but the facts.

We innately create stories, majority fictional, based on past experiences in order to come to terms with our present and future situations, as a part of our inherent internal defense mechanism. If you seriously pay attention to your thoughts, you will realize that you are constantly doing this. These stories tend to feed into our anxieties and insecurities.

When someone doesn’t text you back, what are you thinking? When someone is late to meet you, where do your thoughts go? When your partner stays late at work multiple nights in a row, what do you imagine? When someone is silent in your presence? When someone doesn’t respond to your email? When someone doesn’t answer your phone call? When someone stops talking when you walk in a room? Or when you say something then assume someone took it the wrong way? When someone gives you a strange look? When your boss calls you into his/her office? We automatically jump to conclusions without taking into consideration the actual facts.

Or better yet, what about the narrative we create for ourselves? What limitations are we holding over our heads? I always tell myself I’m not athletic therefore running, CrossFit or any high intensity workout is just not my jam. But in reality, I am fit- I mean I can hold a freakin’ plank for more than six minutes (I just timed myself a couple weeks ago and to say I’m proud is an understatement, yee haw!). So why do I tell myself that I am not something that I actually am? When you say “I’m this sort of person” or “I can’t be XYZ” you are creating a personal narrative that is not necessarily true. This type of construct is limiting ourselves. You are putting yourself into a box and then living according to that. Realizing that our personal faux narratives exist can free us from becoming victims to limitations.

Our interpretations of current situations is typically based on our past. When we don’t truly heal from past traumas, their influence will always be an undercurrent in our present situation and our future choices. This makes us victims of our past. Do not be a victim to your past! Do your best to figure out your issues, work through them, heal from them, shift your perspective and move forward. Just because you feel ok about your past does not mean you’ve healed from it.

Since we are always creating these fabricated stories, how is this serving us?

And that’s the kicker, the stories we tell ourselves rarely serve us. They actually can be quite damaging. Our subconscious minds are trying to protect us by creating a story that will put up a wall between ourselves and the situation in question. They create more anxiety, more insecurity, more frustrations and lead to deeper rabbit holes. The story you are telling yourself serves no one but the ego inside.

Next time you find yourself creating a story, stop and ask yourself: what are the facts? What do I know to be 100% true? If all you know is that your text wasn’t responded to- stop there. That is it. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Accept your reality for what it is. 

This demands a level of self awareness beyond your norm. Even just calling the person who cut you off while driving a jerk is creating a story. A tiny story but still not reality. Do your best to recognize when you jump to conclusions or when your imagination begins to float on down to crazy town. Reel yourself back into the present, breath and focus on the facts. This will only serve you better. 

My advice is to do your best to not fill in the blanks in your head. Do not take what you have experienced and project that on others. Realize that we are complicated beings and the complicated mind is controlled by you. Assumptions serve no one. Most of all, be kind to yourself within your mind. That negative chatter is the worst story teller of all.

Be and live the truth,