What stories are we telling ourselves

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TIME TO STOP LIVING A FAIRY TAIL

Recently I’ve been evaluating my life, and I asked myself the question ‘Am I doing everything I can to have the life I’d like to have?’ After the deafening silence there was a resounding no. Not to worry that was only the beginning of my story; I went on to figure out what I’m going to do to have the future I desired. But that’s not the story I wanted to share today. I was reading a blog that talked about “Cleaning out your dating life.(go here to read the original article) That writer got me thinking about the stories that we tell ourselves. Yes those fairy tails than aren’t very rooted in reality.

Ok so what are these stories? Let’s start with Stereotypes. I’m sure you’re probably thinking that you don’t stereotype people or that you aren’t biased. I’m not going to point out your flaw in this particular thinking, but wanted to talk a bit more about exactly what a stereotype is; well what it is to your brain anyway! The way our brain processes thoughts are by putting them in categories, or like terms. At the most basic level that’s what a stereotype is. Now there’s more to that though, the stereotype is just the initial immediate assessment our brain does instinctively. The second part of that, possibly the most important, is getting confirmation from the environment. e.g. you’re walking in a dark alley, you hear a sound that startles you (your brain automatically thinks, danger get ready to run). You turn around to see that it was just a cat, ok great no danger there.

So what does that have to do with anything? Well our brains are always using stories to make sense of the world around us, but in the example above we also looked to the environment to confirm or deny our story. This last part is where many of us fail. Things happen, and instead of finding out an answer from the environment, we take the story in our head and run with it. The blog I referenced above talks about how to overcome those stories, and get to the truth, not the one in your head. (read this to see the tips on what questions to ask to get to the truth)

This brings us to the second part of this lesson about stories, which is proper communication. The diagram below is a simple illustration of what a conversation looks like; yes you are correct in thinking that it looks really complicated.

ImageCommunication is dynamic and it depends on the people involved. If you’ve made the previous mistake of listening to the story in your head, now add in the illustration. Does it seem that the conversation has just taken on a whole new life? One of the fundamental lessons any Communications student learns is this. If you’re talking to someone, they must repeat what you just said, and it needs to have the same meaning for both of you. The blog I was reading gives specific information on what to do to “Unclog your dating life.” What I got from it was that you should work on your communication skills, it’s important to hear the same message as the person you’re getting feedback from.

          There are many other lessons to take away from this, but I wanted to focus on the stories you’re telling yourself. Then perhaps most importantly, are you communicating effectively? I’ve practiced working on my communication, and the stories I tell myself. It’s lead to some very genuine conversations. Sometimes what I thought was causing friction with someone else, wasn’t even close to what the actual issue was. So be mindful of the stories you’re telling yourself, they could be robbing you of the truth, and as the saying goes “The truth will set you free” well most of the time anyway!

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