In last week’s blog, I shared my thoughts on how we make up stories about the events that occur in our life. The point being that we create stories around life’s events based upon our condition, beliefs and values. In this week’s blog, I thought I would explore this topic a little more by looking at how we believe the stories we tell ourselves to be true.
In your own reflection and in the thoughts I shared last week, you will recall the perspective that we add commentary to the events that occur in life that colour events. In many cases, this distorted view is based upon our unconscious conditioning from the moment of birth. This may be cultural, religious, experiential or psychological in nature. Regardless how the colouring of events occurs, we believe the embellishments to be true. We believe the words, thoughts and feelings that surface around the events as being a true representation of the event. Our subsequent actions are based upon these interpretations which tend to reinforce our underlying conditioning leading to repetitive cycling of the same experience. The ego likes the consistency provided by a consistent view, discouraging challenges to its belief system.
In some situations, we believe the story we tell ourselves because we want to believe it. Any other interpretation we feel would not serve us and may in fact require us to change. Letting go of our long held beliefs can be an arduous task requiring commitment and dedication. Thus, we hold onto our interpretations blindly because we feel a sense of security, comfort or safety through its maintenance. This may occur in relationships, work situations, family interactions, etc. We may be choosing to believe our own stories consciously or unconsciously. However, the greater the level of awareness and denial of the truth, the greater the personal suffering.
People love to share their stories as well. Most individuals love to talk about their interpretation of events to validate themselves. There can be great insight gained in listening to the stories other people tell about events. These stories show people’s hopes, fears, passions and challenges. They can also be great teaching opportunities as detached observers are more likely to see the reality of the situation over someone who is identified by events. In being the observer, we can often see the stories we tell ourselves providing a perfect learning moment to broader our perspective. Being the listener to other’s stories also provides an opportunity to be a truthful reflection for the other person. For example, providing alternate story lines for people can open them to consider new possibilities uncovering blind spots and limiting beliefs.
The main point to this blog, is “Don’t believe everything you think.” Despite our conditioning otherwise, the thoughts that we have are just that thoughts. We don’t have to believe them or indulge them. The analogy I like is that of the sun, sky and clouds. The sun is our true nature. It is forever present and available. The sky is the clear canvas of our lives in which we can paint anything we want. The clouds are momentary thoughts, feelings and desires surfacing. We don’t have to look at them or engage with them. They come and go constantly as long as we are awake. Some of them we don’t even know where they came from and we wouldn’t want to share with anyone. So why do we believe everything we tell ourselves. We need to be conscious and aware of what we are thinking. Notice how you are feeling in any moment and follow the trail of thoughts that have brought you to this moment in time. Question whether the thoughts and stories you are telling yourself are serving you. We don’t have to believe all the stories we hear, including the one’s we make up ourselves.
Throughout your day, ask yourself if you are perceiving clearly. What is the story you are telling yourself in this moment and is it true or is it based upon something you believe to be true? What if you purposely changed your story because the one you have going right now is not serving you? Is any story more real or important than any other? After all, they are just stories you are telling yourself. The bigger question is “What if you could live in a state without stories?” What if you simply experienced life moment-to-moment without adding filler along the way? This is the enlightening experience.
So, when you are caught in your own drama of the moment, try to notice the story that you are telling yourself. Step back and try to be the witness to the moment versus being caught up in the moment. In the witnessing, what are you observing about yourself? What are you observing of others and the situation? What is the truth? And then ask yourself, am I perceiving the real truth of what is happening? Only with detached observation can you see things as they are.