Stories are incredibly powerful. They can make you feel larger than life. Nothing captures emotions as a good story can. A good listener holds space for others to feel safe to tell their stories. A good book or a good movie always revolves around a good story.
Since the dawn of humankind, culture and history have been passed down the generations in the form of stories. What you know of your family lineage is through stories you hear growing up. What you know of yourself is the story of me that you tell yourself. Who you are, why you are the way you are, where you come from, who you want to be. It’s all contained in your collection of stories.
Your mind uses stories to organize, share and compare information. You carry them with you wherever you go. New information is added all the time. Existing information is constantly being validated, sometimes even invalidated.
Your stories become the lens through with you experience new events. They become your truths. Your reality. Each story represents a truth. When your experience matches your truth, you feel confirmed in your identity. When it doesn’t, you become agitated and defensive. You push back on what you see in front of you. It’s wrong! It’s bad! Anything that doesn’t align with your truth gets vilified.
It takes a lot for you to let go of your truth. Your first instinct is to defend them, to justify having them. You want to feel right. Feeling right is a powerful drug. Everything in life should match all your truths, so you can always feel right.
Oh, how quickly you’ve spun off into your judging habit. Stories are nothing more than collections of judgments, about yourself, about others, about life. No other species on earth feels the need to create stories, because no other species judges.
Your mind strings together events based on judgments you have about them. You don’t create stories around things you don’t judge. The tree is green is not much of a story. My neighbor is an idiot for mowing the lawn this early in the morning is. Without judgment, your thoughts fade quickly.
Ultimately, judging is an illusion. Your mind bestows a value judgment on something, but it’s completely made up. The next person has their judgments and makes up their own story. All stories are illusions. How fitting that they exist only in the other great illusion, time.
You can spend your whole life lost in the stories that live in your head. It’s easy to drift off, only to catch yourself coming out of it 5, 10, or 20 minutes later. But even when you’re present, as long as you judge, you’re filtering what’s in front of you through your collection of stories. The more storytelling you do, the less you’re actually here.
Did you lose yourself in a story today?