Today. I will discuss how the stories you tell yourself determine the quality of your life.
What is the narrative?
The “narrative” is how we view the world. The world is objective and what we perceive is our subjective interpretation. We can’t change reality; however, by changing the stories we tell ourselves, we can influence how we respond to external events.
Your ability to change your perspective on events gives you strength. The more positive your mindset, the better you can respond to emotionally challenging circumstances. Conversely, if your attitude is more harmful, then you will respond to events with hostility and immaturity.
Because of these reasons, it’s essential to develop a better, fuller outlook when analyzing the world and the actions of other people.
Narrative Creation And Responding to Outside Events
In the Book of Joy, Desmond Tutu provides an excellent example of narrative creation. He states that when someone cuts us off in traffic, we can belittle them in the process of expressing our anger.
However, he argues looking at the other person more fully helps us manage our emotions and express empathy. Instead of becoming angry, we can create a narrative. For example, the driver may be late for an important meeting, which decides the fate of his job and his family life.
While cutting us off in traffic may have been rude, we’re suddenly more focused on the man’s struggle and less on his indiscretion.
This man may be a rude person and a terrible human being; however, we don’t know. The point is, we can tell a story that paints him in a more positive light. This painting lightens our minds of the burden of anger. With your mind clear of anger, your day can carry on without excess negativity.
Another example – maybe a man is rude to us. We can take it personally and believe this man dislikes us, and he’s the worst human being ever. Or we can imagine that this individual is going through a rough patch and is struggling with emotion control.
With the latter narrative, I’m suddenly thinking of ways to be more helpful to this person. For example, I can ask them what’s happening when they’re in a better mood. Furthermore, I should examine my actions, reflect on my emotional control, and decide whether I am succeeding in my daily practices.
Emotional unease rarely helps. Through proper narrative creation, we can choose how our minds will react to trying moments.
Narrative Creation – How You View Yourself
Additionally, through proper narrative creation, we can help create the future we want. For example, if you wake up every day, believing that you’re worthless, then this story will decide your fate.
Once again, we are subjective creatures – whether or not you view yourself as worthless has no bearing on the reality that you’re not trivial. However, if you tell yourself you are worthless, then you will push your actions in the direction of your narrative.
But what if we wake up every day believing we can succeed? Our more positive outlook affords us the energy needed to conquer challenges. If we think we can achieve greatness, we’re more likely to keep trying.
However, Be aware of reality
Always be mindful of facts. For example, if someone is trying to mug you, don’t waste time trying to empathize with their broken childhood or whatnot – defend yourself and escape.
Furthermore, never romanticize your current situations or limitations. For example, don’t tell yourself, “I can be what I want to be.” Such a mindset sets us up for failure as we’re continuously disappointed. For example, if you’re in your mid-thirties, you’re not going to become an all-star basketball player. Telling yourself otherwise only sets you up for self-delusion and ultimately painful disappointment.
Therefore, I believe it’s crucial to utilize story generation but not in disregard of reality.
We should craft the narratives which make us better individuals. When dealing with the external world, practice empathy and patience not to lose control of your emotions.
Proper narrative generation and emotional control are hard to master. I still struggle with frustration while in traffic or dealing with being a parent. However, practicing will help us become the individuals the world needs us to be.
- What narratives are you telling yourself about the world and your future in it? Does this story give you hope or despair?
- Why do you choose the narratives that you chose? For example, what do you think of certain people, and why do you think these things?
- Practice positive narrative storytelling. When you’re inconvenienced, flood your mind with thoughts of the other person and their potential struggles. See if this helps your emotional control and mental state.
Please remember that it’s important to do the actionables. You’re not on this earth to simply read but to do. To become an individual, you must act more than you consume.
*Image credit to Unsplash.