The Stories We Tell Ourselves

We were walking by our favorite pond that features many wonderful birds when we noticed one of the two purple gallinules (one of our favorites!) was limping and the other one was nowhere in sight. It appeared that the limping bird had broken her leg and the other one must have been taken by a predator. We were very upset! The worst part of it was thinking that the injured one was left all alone and couldn’t possibly make it.

The next day, we visited again and neither bird could be found. Both were now dead. Most certainly. We felt sad but relieved that they were no longer suffering. The following day, we found one of them! No limp! Perfectly fine! We felt happy.

Do you see how it works? We created a story about the birds. We felt bad with our first story, sad and relieved with our second story, and happy with our third story. We’ll feel bad or happy with our next story. The situation itself never changed! The situation simply is what it is. What changed was our story about the situation.

This is how we walk through the world. We are constantly experiencing situations, circumstances, and life through our thinking. Most of us are constantly spinning stories about what is happening around us. Depending on the story we create, we will feel happy or sad or any number of other emotions. Do you see this at work in your own life?

I’ve been waiting for some news recently. It’s news that will have a big impact on me no matter what turn it takes. Each day, I spin a different story about it. Each day I experience different emotions depending upon the story I spin. Some days, I feel relief when I imagine nothing comes of it. Other days, I feel relief when I imagine something does come of it. The scenarios I create in my mind are made up and yet I experience them in the moment as if they are real. The situation isn't changing but my stories about the situation are.

This is how our psychological system works. We create our lives via thought and consciousness. You could think of thoughts like the painter’s palette and consciousness as the painter. The painter has an array of colors available to her. She chooses which she wants to create with and she leaves the others on the palette. She creates with the colors she chooses, creating form from the formless colors. Thoughts are similar. They are energy moving through us but once we start painting with them, whether they are stressful or peaceful, we create our unique experiences, we create our lives. That’s why you and I and every other person can react or respond to the same situation differently. We are painting with different colors.

If we don’t understand this, then we are at the mercy of the stories we spin. If we have some understanding of this, then we can wake up to what is happening. We can remind ourselves that we are spinning this or that particular story. We can bring ourselves back to the present moment.  When we get caught up in the past or future, we can obscure our wisdom and become confused about how to handle what's before us. Waking up to the stories we are spinning and returning to the present moment brings us back to clarity and wellbeing.

Notice the stories that you are spinning today. What do you see? Just noticing can make a difference in returning to your clarity and wellbeing.

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