You know that running monologue you have in your head? The one that keeps track of everyone’s appointments, lists off all of the things you are wishing for, and, depending on the day, dishes out praise or punishment about whatever you are doing or feeling? That monologue is part of your narrative. Narrative is the story you tell yourself about how the world works, why people do what they do, and why things happened the way they did. This story really matters.
How Narrative Works
Let me give you an example. Let’s say you are driving to work. The person in front of you is clearly not paying attention, they keep speeding up and slowing down and then slam on their brakes and turn at the last minute- no turn signal. How are you feeling? Annoyed? Impatient? Nervous? What words are you thinking or maybe even saying out loud? If you are a normal human being you are probably having some kind of feeling and thinking some thoughts. This is what humans do in order to make sense of the world. We tell ourselves a story so that we can understand what is happening.
But What if the Story is True
The thing that really matters is if the story you tell yourself about a situation serves you. For example, if your story about that driver is “what a jerk” you might feel angry. If it’s “he’s going to hurt someone” you might feel scared. If the story you tell yourself is “hurry up I’m going to be late” you may feel impatient. You’ve tried to figure out why this event is happening by telling a story of inconsideration or recklessness and it has left you frustrated or upset. In this example you can’t know if that story is true. The thing is- it doesn’t matter if it is true or not- it matters if it serves you or not.
How to Change Your Narrative
Now try something. Try to remember the last time you made a driving error. Was it because you’re a jerk? Because you do not care at all about the people around you? Or was it because you were lost and trying to find your turn or you were distracted by an incident at home or work? Now that you have this awareness the trick becomes applying it in your every day. Notice the story you are telling yourself and ask yourself “is this story serving me?”. If the story is not helping you feel calm and loving try to find another story that does serve you.
My kid is laughing in my face because she has no respect
My daughter is scared and embarrassed right now
My partner is so lazy, he never lifts a finger to help around here
I value a clean house and I love my partner
I’m such a screw up, I can’t believe I did that
I’m human and I’m doing my best