The Power of Narrative: what’s your story?

We humans are sense-makers. We have been telling each other stories for thousands of years to explain our momentary existence on this spinning blue planet. We look for meaning; we look for purpose. (And yes, that is a goat in a tree.)

Goats in treeWe are creative – often ingenious – in the stories we tell ourselves and the metaphors we adopt.

You will have your own narrative to explain who you are and how you got here. It will likely inform your sense of identity, your hopes and fears, and where you go next. I hope it serves you well.

But remember: you are not your narrative

You craft your story; you edit, erase, and refine in light of experience, reflection, and perspective. You choose which elements to share, to learn from, and to imbue with deep significance. And it becomes a lens through which you understand your life and the world around you.

Yet your narrative framework is not an objective reality and your story is distinct from your Self. It is by definition retrospective and moulded by the power of hindsight.

We may be the tellers of our own tales, but we are also the protagonists: we cannot know what happens next nor can we always make sense of the present. Where we have a strong attachment to – and identification with – our narrative this realisation creates tension (psychological, emotional, or physical).

Through making peace with not knowing we find the courage to create.

As the late Steve Jobs explained, ‘…you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.  You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.’

If this resonates take a moment to consider:

  • To what extent are you attached to your narrative?
  • What is your tolerance of not knowing?
  • What do you trust in? And what is the origin of that trust?
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