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Education healing Mindfulness psychology

The Stories We Tell

Humans are the only documented species known to tell stories.

We’re the most intellectually advanced species, using language and abstract thinking to hypothesize scenarios and experiences.

When an intellectual species invades earth, I’m sure this will change, and I hope I’m alive to see it because I should be dating an alien. It’s more fitting than these human men.

Stories shape our reality. They influence and enforce our identity, the way we view the world, as well as others. When relating to someone, else’s story, you’ll use your own to help connect.

All moments and situations in life are perceived through personal biases and subjectivity. Your environment, past relationships, and experiences have influenced your perspectives, thus the way you tell stories. For example, has someone’s actions ever appalled you?

For whatever reason, that person behaved in an unexpected way that caused you to feel personal about it. As you witnessed their behavior, you relied on your own beliefs and past experiences to judge the situation and develop an opinion. Needless to say, others may have a different perception of the same situation.

The Art of Making It All Make Sense

Did you know every story must make sense to you? If it doesn’t, you’ll search for meaning that does. Trouble arises when emotions distort our perspectives, leading to irrational storytelling. As a child, if my mom didn’t come home from work at the usual time, I would become sick with worry.

I’d imagine something terrible happened to her, and the later she was, the more drastic my hypothetical scenarios became. As she walked through the door, I would throw a hissy fit. She’d be like, “Jessica I was at the store and left my phone in the car.” Suddenly, I felt stupid for the stories I told.

While experiencing intense emotions, our stories can become ridiculous, motivating inappropriate behavior. It becomes even more problematic when we’re unaware of the stories we’ve been telling and how they build upon each other.

In relationships, stories become all kinds of fucked up. If your experiences were bad, it likely altered your beliefs and perspectives, entrancing their way to present relationships. For example, let’s say your ex cheated with a stripper.

One night, your new partner is hanging with the boys and hasn’t responded to your text message. Three hours pass and your imagination runs wild-now you’re considering he’s at the strip club, having sex with a stripper.

Melodramatic examples are the best when driving a point home. Honestly, I’ve yet to understand why strippers have become a common reference of mine.

Defining Your Story

Stories are often exaggerated and falsify the truth. Personal insecurities or perceived shortcomings are often overstated and magnified– skewing how we see ourselves. We begin crafting this identity throughout early development.

Imagine the stories we told at a young age when we didn’t know any better? Bits and pieces of our identity get stuck with us, influencing our adult life outside awareness.

For example, if you were bullied at a young age, you may have faced low self esteem and insecurity, even after the bullying stopped. Both positive and negative moments bring forward thoughts and feelings. Beliefs arise and become engrained within us.

More often than not, we don’t even know what those beliefs are or what they’re saying on a daily basis. We have a shit ton of daily thoughts, coupled with an internal dialogue that never shuts up.

It’s difficult to listen when it’s goes on and on, like background music. You become desensitized to its noise. But you shouldn’t tune it out- especially if you’re unsatisfied with an aspect of your life or if looking to improve and self develop.

The amazing thing about being a storyteller is having the ability to change your story. After all, you’re the author. But first, you must listen to the story and decide what needs re-writing.

This is where mindfulness comes in. It’s a successful technique for emotional regulation, as well as increasing the mind/body experience.

To understand what’s going on upstairs in that mind of yours, you must remain fully present in the moment, attentive to arising thoughts and emotions while remaining accepting, without judgement.

This is how you bring attention to awareness and heal. Mindfulness takes dedication because initially- its challenging. But, if you set aside at least fifteen minutes each day, you’ll begin listening and hearing in ways you weren’t able to do before.

What stories are you telling?

What stories would you like to tell?

-Jessica Bruno LMHC

By Jessica Bruno

I'm an an aspiring author, as well as a psychotherapist. I obtained my masters in Mental Health Counseling, Applied Psychology from New York University. I enjoy challenging conventional schools of thought and discussing the "hard stuff," with candor and humor. The world is a canvas, why be boring and paint inside the lines?

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