As a child I was captivated by stories, I read voraciously; fast, furious, engrossed, loving the words, feelings and knowledge that could be gained from someone else’s desire to share and as an adult, I am now fascinated by the power of the stories that we create and how they shape our lives.
As humans, stories have tremendous power and importance as a way of sharing our legacy, our history, our experience, our language and learning which has helped us to survive. Stories can help us to see the world in a different way to our own experience. But what I didn’t realise until much later in life was the power of the stories I told myself and, like me, you may be completely unaware that you have told yourself stories, and those stories, could be ruining your life.
As children we start to tell ourselves stories, ascribing meaning to our experiences to try to make sense of them and organise them in our mind. This creates connections and pathways in the mind and so in future we can quickly relate an experience to a previous one which is reassuring.
The problem with this rather clever system is that we then base our future decisions on the original ones that we made as a small child, often with very limited information and options, under emotional stress, and so now as an adult you are making decisions based on those meanings.
Often we had no-one to discuss our feelings with and we kept our meaning-decisions private, making up our own mind about everything that we experienced but of course only seeing our own perspective and how it affected us, a singular uninformed perspective of a small often hurt child.
I once read about a man who held negative feelings towards his father. He remembered his father hitting him one time. Many years later he mentioned it to his father, who looked at him in shock and said “I didn’t hit you, you were in the road playing and a car was about to hit you, I ran out and pushed you across the road to get you out of the path of the car”.
This story breaks my heart every time I read it. I think of all the pain the son went through, the thoughts and the implications and decisions made, based on the pain he felt from his father’s “abuse”. I imagine his bewilderment as a child trying to make sense in the chaos after the event.
I spend a lot of time identifying these stories; my own, and my clients, to understand the reality of them. I think of it as upgrading the software, like we would on a computer or mobile phone. How many of us have the same computer as we did 30 years old?
We would laugh at the thought of running Windows 1.0 on our pc and yet rarely do we think to look inside our mind and consider if we need an upgrade in our thinking or examining why we think, feel and behave the way we do.
Imagine the moment the son realises that his father, far from trying to hurt him, was saving his life. Imagine the cogs moving as he reassesses what he thought and the ripples through his life and how he views the world around him.
By identifying our stories and becoming aware of the power of the stories we create we can start to change our lives and update the software; the software that informs our every thought and action, every feeling and decision that we make every day.
If you would like to explore your stories and upgrade your software, I would love to help and support you. Contact me via email firstname.lastname@example.org to start your inner software upgrade!