Stories are a wonderful form of entertainment. They offer escapism and distraction from daily life by taking us to places and introducing us to characters we would never be aware of. Stories allow us to dream, laugh, cry, empathise, fall in love, stamp our feet in protest or recoil in horror. Some stories stay with us forever; like our favourite tales read in childhood or books that have had a resounding impact on our lives in adulthood. Some say a good story involves striking the right balance; a little intrigue and mystery, mixed with equal parts romance and fun, pulled together by wisdom and wit. However, there is a different kind of story that many of us perpetuate day in, day out; stories made up of the memories and thoughts of our past, the details of our present and the hopes for our future. These residual memories and thoughts we cling to are not always positive and tend to throw us off balance.
Most, if not all of us, live our lives like characters in a story. From the time we wake each day, to the time we fall into bed, the story of our lives is played out. If we close our eyes and reflect on the past twenty-four hours, we would witness the highs and lows, the excitement, the dreams, the laughter, the tears, the triumphs and the defeats; all aspects of a good story. Taking the good with the bad, the yin and the yang, is important for an interesting and balanced life story. Often it’s the challenges, that none of us enjoy or anticipate, that contribute to our growth and wisdom. Nature displays this perfectly; the seasons come and go in order to maintain balance. If we look closely, perfect balance is achieved by the cycle of the four seasons. Spring is a time of rebirth, nature is in full bloom, there is colour and life everywhere. Summer encourages us to enjoy the warmth and nature as it is, before autumn arrives and nature steadily matures, readying itself for winter where we see it decline. Then the whole cycle repeats itself. If we try to understand balance in this way, we would see our lives as replicating the four seasons; a cycle of events consistently geared towards creating balance. What appears negative is in fact necessary for growth and renewal.
The stories we commonly tell ourselves are not always positive or uplifting; and it’s often the negative stories that we seem to play on a never-ending loop in our minds. The repetition of these stories breeds belief and we integrate them into who we think we are, creating a false self, even if there isn’t a single shred of truth present. Our thoughts are consumed with stories that send us off balance. We might be holding on to past regrets, hurts, disappointments or grievances that happened many moons ago; the moment has most definitely passed but the story continues. By repeating the story to ourselves, we unconsciously affect every area of our lives. The stories we believe in, whether true or false, become our identity and colour both our internal and external worlds. Why is it easier to believe the negative stories, rather than the positive ones about ourselves? How do we strike a balance between our negative and positive thoughts and memories? Why do we tend to remember the negative things over the positive ones? Maybe it’s our ego spinning out of control; the more dramatic our stories, the more egos are strengthened and our sense of real self is diminished. Maybe it’s easier to replay the tape in our heads, then actually change it. Changing the story would take conscious effort; it would mean turning our backs on beliefs that have sustained us for years.
If we can think one way about ourselves, surely we can learn to see ourselves in a different light? Granted, stories ingrained over years would take time and patience to rewrite. A great deal of presence and perseverance is required to be conscious of our habitual stories told over and over to ourselves and others. There’s a writer’s axiom that suggests “a good story is never written, but rewritten”. In life, it’s never too late to revise and rewrite.