The stories that we tell ourselves…

I have been thinking, since my underdreaming post, about the stories that we tell ourselves; and how these narratives might work in the same way as our dreams. I have been hung up on the notion of story-telling for a while now and it feels, unexpectedly, like another facet has been polished clean. There’s nothing groundbreaking in the insight – it’s just that, until this point, I didn’t quite get how story telling related to self discovery, nor appreciate the relationship between writing our future and narrating our past.

Am I speaking in riddles?

Or is it so glaringly obvious that I am way behind –

Because if, in my story, I have seen myself as unambitious and, at times, directionless, then maybe this reflection will be projected into how I play out the next stage of my life. And if my narrative has been one of missed opportunities or late beginnings, then it might be hard to see how this character could assume a different path.

But this is only one part of the equation –

I have also been wondering about how far this story-telling goes and why it’s so important. I have always thought of stories in beginning-middle-and-end terms and implicitly linked to fiction, but I am beginning to realise that they might be how we make sense of the world. That part of the appeal of stories is that they weave together things that, on their own, seem incomprehensible, or joins dots that we are desperately trying to make into sense.

Things happen and we replay them back in relation to our actions, or in association to other things that were going on.

Sometimes the association is possible – but sometimes it is wildly off course. Sometimes the interpretation is accurate – but rather than the assumed pattern, a one off.

I haven’t even started thinking about how this fits with the cultural stories, nor the ones that other people have about us –

And so it feels, at the moment, as though we are knitted into a million different stories. As though part of the story thing means that we play out old scenarios and therefore end up writing the future from the ideas which have characterised our past….and the dream thing has got me wondering whether we can change this. Whether it is as simple as being aware of where the story came from (‘ah, yes, I have described myself as clumsy because once upon a time I roller-skated into a table and broke my arm’ or ‘okay, I have been tangled up in a relationship with food because I was telling myself that it would make the world feel safe’); and if, in that recognition, we can create an opportunity for a new ending or a different version of the tale.

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2 responses to “The stories that we tell ourselves…

  1. It can be very powerful to write your story as a fairytale and then see how you feel about the ending. Your fairy godmother is allowed to wave her magic wand and get you the ending you want.

  2. I like that idea – it helps you to extend the possibilities I think, which is so hard when you’re repeating old stories. I have written a few dream diaries in the past which have been really powerful, but I wonder if it’s the smaller stories that have the most impact – and whether it is worth, therefore, re-imagining them. Thanks for the suggestion 🙂

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