by Karen Frazier, Managing Editor
Paranormal Underground Magazine
Everyone has a story. For most of us, our story is about where we have come from, who we have interacted with, what we have done, what has been done to us, and where it is we are going. Every day, as we go through life, we interpret events and interactions into the stories that we tell ourselves about those things that occur. It used to be a favorite game of mine to watch a complete stranger in some crowded location and make up a story about that person. It’s the writer in me. People and places pique my curiosity, and the stories that I tell myself about them become fodder for my writing – regardless of the accuracy of what my mind has created.
Life is like that, too. We tell ourselves stories about everything without even realizing we are doing it. We ascribe thoughts, feelings, emotions and motivations to others without ever having any proof that the story we are making up about them is true.
I’ll give you an example. I’ve had people in my life over the years who have been rather judgmental of my belief system, lifestyle and more. Although they never (except once or twice) came out and said to me, “I don’t approve of your beliefs and I don’t approve of your life choices,” it was there in their eyes and in the way they interacted with me. I spent an inordinate amount of time worrying about that judgment and thinking my own judgmental thoughts such as, “How DARE they judge who I am?” “Who are THEY to try and determine how I should live my life or what I should believe?” And other similar gems.
I was so busy worrying about their thoughts about me and spending time in their heads – which was really their business and not mine – that I forgot to just be present in me. I was busy associating myself with the pain of the story that I was telling myself about them. “They judge me. They don’t approve of me. They don’t see me as I am! They should!!”
Here were my questions to myself. How on earth could I know that? How could I ever know what it was they were feeling about me? Not only that, but was it even my business what they thought? Say that I was dead on about how they perceived and thought about me. Would it change who I was in any way? If they did think that way about me, then apparently that is what they should be thinking because it was what they were thinking. Arguing with that reality or worrying about it was unnecessary pain that I was creating. Why on earth should I try to control their thoughts? Who did I think I was to do so? It didn’t serve me or make me happy. It made me horribly unhappy.
My “game” of telling stories about strangers had extended to the people in my own life. And to myself, as I made myself a character in the story I was telling about them.
Then I figured something out. I’d heard it said before – but I’d never, ever really gotten it until just that very moment. The stories that I was telling myself about others was really just a mirror reflecting me. My thoughts were all about me and not about them at all.
“They are judging my life choices and my belief system.” Well. Maybe they were. It was none of my business if that is what they were doing. What was my business, however, was that I was judging my life choices and my belief system. If I wasn’t, then nothing anyone else thought about me could pierce me to the core. I was bothered by the story I was telling myself about them because it was really a story about myself.
“They should accept me as I am!” They should? Why? Who was I to tell them who they should and shouldn’t accept. Not only that, but should, they, really? If they didn’t, that was the reality of the situation. Who am I to control what “they” accept and don’t accept? It was another story and another mirror. Nobody else should or shouldn’t accept me. I should accept myself as I am.
It was a big hall of mirrors. As all of my stories are. I tell myself stories about everything. How people should present in relationships with me. How my children should behave. How I should be. How the asshole driving down the freeway in front of me should get in the right lane if he’s going to drive so slowly. How my company shouldn’t have laid me off. All of those shoulds, which do nothing but cause me pain, run through my head. And yet, the clearest proof that perhaps the shouldn’t is that they aren’t. The asshole is driving slowly. My company did lay me off. That is the reality of it, and the stories that I tell surrounding it only serve to hurt me.
My story doesn’t advance me in any way. As a matter of fact, I can’t think of a single reason that doesn’t cause me stress to keep telling myself these stories. And I can see that I would be happier, more peaceful, more productive and more joyful without them.
So why is the story there? Because it is a trick we play on ourselves with our minds. We tell the stories in order to stay protected from the reality of the situation. I would submit, however, that maintaining the story is far more painful than facing what is ever will be.
It’s a popular saying right now – “It is what it is.” Yeah – it’s a platitude, but there is meaning there, too. If something is, then it is insanity to become emotional contortionists in order to determine what it should be. The best evidence that it shouldn’t be that way is that it isn’t.
Rare, indeed, is the person who doesn’t fill their heads and their lives with the stories they tell about themselves and others. I have met a few. I have met many others who work every day, trying to recognize the stories that they tell themselves for the BS that it really is. Others have no recognition that what they are doing is telling themselves a story.
I often ask myself how I would feel and who I could be without those stories? The answers are profound. Peaceful. Joyful. In the moment. Experiencing. Being.
Everyone has a story. You and I are no different than everyone else. We live our lives with the stories that we tell, robbing ourselves of peace. Who would I be without my stories? Perhaps the answer is really that simple. I’d BE. Maybe that is all I really need.