We are storied creatures. We cannot help but live by stories. It’s not a question of stopping the stories. It’s a question of interrogating them to see whether they truly serve us or not.
The interpretation we give to a thought, feeling, or experience that is already history may not even be accurate — or only partially so. At best, we’re working with a museum piece that is an accurate interpretation of something that is long gone; at worst, with a museum piece that is a mistake, misunderstanding, or misinterpretation.
The stories we tell contribute toward who we become: that summer at camp, your sixth-grade teacher, the day you met your partner. Or your child. These stories have a reality to them, whether in fact they happened as we remember them or not. We invest energy in them. We act in response to them. We become our stories.
If someone last week acted in a way that elicited in me a negative experience, evoked a feeling of anger or hurt, or a thought about the poor nature of their character, I have a choice. Elevate it to the level of the stories that make us who we are. Or lay it down and walk away.
At some point, it stops becoming about what happened, and starts becoming about who we want to be.
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