Friday 5 January 2018

Importance of Narrative We Tell Ourselves

Most of us are story tellers - good or not-so-good, having a conversation, making up reasons to satisfy children's curiosity, embellishing experiences (or achievements), or at times fabricating incidents that may never have happened. We share stories about our life with other people all the time - this post is for the stories we tell ourselves.

Stories shared with others are usually about past events, things that have already happened. The stories we tell ourselves are about future scenarios - all the various possibilities that can unfold and pan out. Future is inevitable - it will happen...something will happen. We can at times predict what's going to happen and at some other times are completely taken by surprise.

Our mind is capable to building multiple possible outcomes for almost every decision we take. Not only is our mind is capable of thinking of the good (desirable) outcomes, but also our mind is capable of thinking of the bad (undesirable) outcomes.

If it was just this, listing out various possible outcomes (good and bad), things would have been simpler. However, our mind is also inclined to attach itself with some possible outcomes by working out an equation of probability and desirability. For those who are pessimistic, their mind starts telling them a narrative that's more bad than good...and vice-a-versa for those who are optimistic. 

This is where we often fail to see an opportunity to take control of our own thoughts, we simply believe we are who we are - thus an optimist will continue being an optimist, and a pessimist will also continue being a pessimist. The opportunity is to start working with our mind, bringing our thoughts more in our control, and becoming more balanced in our approach towards future.

Fact of the matter is simple, none of us know the future. We can never be sure of how exactly future events will unfold, how exactly will results of our decisions of today pan out tomorrow, and how exactly will we feel about the outcome at that moment. But what we can definitely do today is to find a balanced view of our future - highly positive outlook could lead to feeling of failure if the positives don't come our way...and a highly negative outlook could make our present miserable even before the future events have a chance to do the same.

Just as we are convinced telling stories to others helps make our case, or helps others accept a reality better - we need to learn to believe in the power of narrative we tell ourselves. The more balanced we can get in the narrative, the more centred we will become. The more centred we become, the more capable will we be in accepting whatever future brings for us.

It is acceptable that this line of thought is seemingly for pessimists, so that they can find it in them to feel better about their future and in the process not make their present miserable. However, the idea presented here is two-fold: a) take control of the narrative we tell ourselves, which brings our thoughts under our control, and b) to use this control to build a balanced view of the future.

It is not that difficult to train, and control, our own mind. If we can, at times, convince others to see a scenario as we want them to - we sure can learn to convince ourselves!

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