Stories create our reality

“Who would you be without your story?”  (Byron Katie)

“It’s my nature to make up stories, to interpret everything I perceive. Without awareness, I give my personal power to the story, and the story writes itself. With awareness, I recover the control of my story. I see that I am the author, and if I don’t like my story, I change it”.  (Don Miguel Ruiz)

Stories describe to us how we believe the world is. In effect, they create the world we perceive and inhabit. Whole countries and socio-economic groups share common stories, as do the various religious organisations and political parties. An common global story right now is “Economic growth is essential for the health of a nation”; it’s repeated constantly on radio, TV and in print media, despite a mountain of evidence that continuous economic growth actually brings nothing except misery to the vast majority of people and colossal damage to our planet. Families and neighbourhoods have their stories too: “You will be a failure in life unless you pass your exams”, or “Never trust a white man!”  And as individuals we both inherit stories, pick them up on the way, and create our own variations. Our personal stories are coloured by our attitude to life – for example whether we are sceptics or idealists. We tell ourselves stories constantly so that we don’t forget them, even in our dreams. Even our view of physical reality is a story. “The Sun and all the other heavenly bodies revolve around the Earth, which is the centre of the universe” was a popular story for thousands of years. If human beings can’t even trust their eyes, how much less credibility should we give to stories about the moral realm, like “Refugees just come to Europe to claim benefits” or  “Some people are so evil that hanging would be too good for them”. The Storyteller in us guides our thinking and thus our communications at all times when we are not consciously connected with our selves.

Stories can of course be fun and inspirational too but in the context of NVC/NbC work, when we talk about stories and scripts we usually mean the kind of repetitive negative scenarios most of us replay in our minds and conversations and which form a pattern or template for our behaviour. The kernel of such stories is often what we call a ‘core belief‘ such as “I’m powerless to change my circumstances”,  “Nobody really loves me” or “You can’t fight the authorities and win”.

Since our stories run our lives, we might as well sit down and pay attention. But don’t let’s make the mistake of believing them! They are just stories. And when we see how they restrict our choices in life and inhibit us from living our truth – well, we may just want to write some new stories to tell ourselves!