As we read a story, we understand that its main character’s reality is carefully constructed. She is intelligent, athletic, snarky, beautiful, etc. because the author wrote her that way. The character is brought to life with the written word, and if this is done well, we never doubt it. We accept it as truth.
Consider for a moment that each of us is given a similar narrative for our lives from the moment our mother knows of our existence. In those first years, our stories are barely skeletons, but as our personalities bloom, so does the tale of who we are. Five years old, swaddling our dolls, rocking them, laying them down for naps, we are told that we will make wonderful mommies though as we go through these motions, we imagine the dolls as our patients, our hands as healer’s hands. Never in our little minds did we imagine that the make-believe child we held was ours until the idea that we were the mommy was granted to us by the adult standing witness. Suddenly our future is forever changed, a new chapter in our story written.
Our dreams of being a gymnast are dashed because we are told we are “too fat” to do gymnastics, and suddenly it is true. We no longer write because a teacher told us our spelling and grammar were horrible, never taking into account the beauty of the story we tried to tell. Maybe we don’t like certain foods or certain people or certain places because the narratives we were given as children villified them.
Could this be where racism, homophobia, and other forms of hatred originate — the stories we’ve been told?
And then there are the tales we tell ourselves. We tell them so often in our minds, without even giving voice to them. that somewhere along the way they become truth. “You’re a slob.” “You’re compassionate.” “You’re a nurturer.” “You’re homely, but that’s okay because these other things make up for it.” “You love sweets…or cats…or you hate exercise.” “You’re too afraid…not strong enough…not creative…”
In reality, little or none of this may be true. It might simply be the story that you have told yourself or to which you have listened for so long that you are no longer open to other possibilities.
Now I would like to pose a question. Are your narratives true? What could you do or be if you opened your mind to other possibilities?
***If you haven’t read Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements, please consider doing so. I have thought a lot about those four agreements since reading that book years ago, and seriously considering them and implementing them has allowed me to be a more content person in many ways. This post is a direct result of having read that book.***