Or, to be more accurate, a series of stories: Stories about the past, the present and the future; stories about our jobs, our relationships and our money; stories about our days, our experiences and our conversations; stories about who are; what we deserve and why our lives are how they are; stories about other people; stories about ourselves; stories about everything we do, feel, see and hear.
It never stops. We are in a constant state of writing, telling or reliving our stories. It is the way our minds work, how we categorize and organize the events that make up our lives, the means through which we create our own identities.
And while at first glance it appears that our stories are a direct result of our lives, the truth is actually quite the opposite: Our lives are a direct result of our stories. How we perceive others, ourselves and our experiences, is the foundation on which our choices and therefore our results are based. In other words, we are simultaneously buying what we’re selling – hook, line and sinker.
That might be all well and good if our stories were absolutely true. Unfortunately, they are not. They’re filtered. They’re filtered through our own unique and very subjective perspectives. You are looking at the world and everything in it through you-colored glasses, and no matter how you clear and accurate you think those lenses are, I guarantee you are mistaken.
Don’t believe me? Try this little experiment: Ask five different people to describe the same movie or book. And don’t just ask them to lay out the characters, the scenes and the plot, ask them to describe the most important part and overall meaning of the story, as well as the general message that the writer was trying to convey. You don’t really have to do the experiment, do you? You already know in all likelihood you’d end up with five different takes on the story. It doesn’t just work that way with movies and books. It works that way with life too.
There aren’t just two sides to every story. There are as many sides as there are people and contributing factors involved. And no matter how intelligent or perceptive or open-minded you are, there’s no way you could possibly take into account everything necessary in order to tell an absolutely accurate, unbiased, non-fictional story about… well… anything.
This wouldn’t be a problem if we were still talking about books and movies. Most of those stories have a limited ability to affect people’s lives, relationships and results. But we’re not talking about those stories; we’re talking about your stories. Not only are those stories unlimited in their ability to affect your life, most of them are doing so without you being aware that they’re doing it.
Your stories are so ingrained in you, you don’t see them as your stories – you see them as you. You have based your entire existence on your perception of the events that have taken place since the day you were born. You have used these perceptions to create an identity, a persona, a character in the narrative that you know as your life. You have created a part to play and immersed yourself in that role. You have made all your choices based on what you believe your character would do given his or her personality, history, proclivities and limitations. You have worn your characteristics like a costume, learned your lines by heart so that you don’t accidentally wander off script and followed your storyline to a T.
Unless… like so many of the rest of us, you’re not exactly thrilled with how your production is shaping up. If that's the case, then have I got good news for you.