2022-08-9 Thoughts and Emotions (2 of 5) The Influence of Stories
2:56PM Aug 9, 2022
So, continuing this week's topic of the relationship between emotions and thinking, thinking and emotions. And one of the ways that sometimes we live is we tell the story of our day to a friend that we might see. Then imagine that the friend sees you and says, Tell me, how was it at work today? And maybe, you know, maybe not for you, but just imaginary ideas. Someone says, or someone says, Tell me how it was it worked today. But tell me about the challenges you had with your boss. And oh, that boss of mine, oh, that boss is always so demanding. And so angry, and I could never do enough, I could never do it, right. And there's so much disrespectful and, and, and I have some ideas and the DeVos takes the ideas and makes it their own and stuff, you know, and I don't get any credit and, and I'm delegated to the back room. And so as we tell the story, there's more anger, there's more depression, or just despair, like, Oh, this is terrible. But imagine that the friend said, Tell me about your day at work. What did you learn about patience today? How do you learn to be patient? How did your ability to be patient improved today. And then you might say, Oh, well, I have a difficult boss. But so many times during the day, when the boss was demanding or did something, I was able to breathe deeply and just relax, not buy into my attention and my anger. And I've been able to stay calm with it all. And I was able to manage the situation so much wiser with a calm, and I had much more patience. And then when I was working with a colleague, who was really slow and doing the tasks that I needed a colleague to do, I found myself more patient. And that was really good, because later I found out that my colleague was dealing with a D, big, really big personal issue, someone in their family had died recently, and I was so glad I was able to be patient. So that's a different story. And the emotions of telling that story would probably be very different than the first one. If the person said to you for your data, how was your day? And can you tell me, I'd love to hear a little bit about what, what brought you joy today and delight? Oh, yes, it was so nice. That, you know, to watch some of my colleagues work together and collaborate, and they were so creative, and so supportive each other and so kind, and we don't do that much of my job and, but to watch it across the room and, and see how respectful they were of each other. But that was like a highlight of my day. And I got a reminder, it's possible to be this way with each other. So what I'm trying to convey here is that we can tell the same story more or less, with different themes, different purposes, different things that we emphasize. And depending what we emphasize, we'll have a different emotional response to it. The tone of voice, the body, language, everything, feelings inside the emotions that come depending on what we emphasize. And what happens to many of us human beings is that we're telling stories a lot. And but we don't, we're not so conscious of the choice we've made for what we're emphasizing in the story. Some people are emphasizing how everything is wrong. And a lot of their stories have to do with complaining. Some people are emphasizing how how everything impacted me. And you know, I'm the victim of everything and it's so hard. Some people are telling the story from the point of view of, of a lack there's not enough here. There's I mean, it's it's it's an infinite number of ways of stories of a day, a situation can be told. And if we tell the same story over and over again, or the same, always the same focal point that we're emphasizing in each story, then we're going to reinforce the inner emotional life that or disposition that we have. And we might not be aware of how much conditioning influence the stories have on who we are and how we are.
And these are stories we tell, say out loud to our friends and people. And we talk about stories we tell ourselves. And often, especially when we tell in ourselves, but often we're kind of living the story or their stories are an expression of, of our emotional life and what we think is important or how we're feeling anytime. So if we're angry for there's a version, then a lot of the stories can be aversive story, what's wrong, what's wrong, what's wrong? If we're hurt, if we have a deep sadness or hurt, it might still be angry, because we're kind of recoiling from the hurt, and we want someone to blame. And so we're looking to stories, a lot of blame. I'm a victim stories, and someone someone has been perpetuated, you know, as it has done bad to me. And so some of these stories have aspects of truth to them, and then makes it more complicated because then we think that, well, it's true. And so then it's I should I'm justified in telling the story the way it is. But truth is buried. You know, truth is thematic, how we tell this one story depends on the angle we take on it. So if we tell the story, from the point of view of what did I learn today, versus how was I heard today will tell the story differently. They're both kind of true, but which is better for you, which has a better influence on you. If you tell the story of how you are kind today, that's a different story than if you go home and tell the story. Oh, I was mean today. And I'm always mean, and I can never not be mean. And this is hopeless for me. But if you tell the story, how I was kind today, then maybe you'll notice Oh, yeah, there was a moment today, where I opened the door for someone, I guess I'm not always mean. So to tell to be sensitive, that we're biased, we tell our stories in biased ways. And select, we select how to tell our stories. And when we ruminate, ruminate, when we tell the same story over and over again, or use the same bias to tell the story, the same angle to tell it, it can reinforce our inner life and reinforce our dispositions, or emotional life and how we feel when we do. It's hard to change the ocean liner and make it go a different way. But it is possible to start recognizing what is actually happening. And one of the ways to begin that is to start becoming skilled at recognizing, oh, that's the story. That's telling a story. There's a story, you can do that in meditation. But you can do that in daily life as you're going about. You can do stories in your you know, see, notice your thinking is story making. Notice how much it's happening. I want you to notice how much it's happening. Then spend some time investigating your stories. Some of you might actually write them down in a journal, tell the story in a journal, and then see it on paper. And then look at what is the angle that I'm using to tell the story? What is it? What What kind of self? Am I in this story? Am I a self that has agency? Or am I a self who's a victim? Am I a self that has rights and needs to demand my rights or myself? Who has Ken you know, has a sense of confidence. I mean, I'm just making things up, and I don't want to imply anything here. But but you know, look and see the themes, the of what, what, how your stories tend to go and consider not to make a pollyannish story. But consider are the realistic alternative perspectives to look at the same thing. perspectives that doesn't deny there's been difficulty, but perspectives that you become a better person support you, helps you become more free, more kind, helps you become wiser, helps you engage in this situation in a way that's better for everyone. And so one perspective that I like for stories, the if you've tried to problem solve and figure out what's happening or something is asked the question what is best hear for everyone involved? As opposed to what's best for me? What's best for that person? What's best for everyone involved?
And then maybe that story will help. Living a life that supports everyone's self included. So. So stories, they're very important part of human life. Sometimes I think that we shouldn't be called Homo sapiens we should be called Homer, Homer historians. Because probably, stories are such a powerful characteristic of human life, maybe animals tell stories, but the creativity and the ways we can do it, disassociated from reality. And the impact stories have on our inspiration, or faith or confidence, or lack of all these things, and, and our sense of purpose and meaning is huge. It's huge these things and, and sort of become wise about stories. And in meditation, to the degree to which you become really quiet, and still, with thinking very still and quiet. One of the values of that is to help us see with greater clarity, the stories that we live by, and when we see them, let us become wise about that part of our life. So that we are not unduly our emotional and inner life is not unduly unhelpfully influenced by the stories we tell. So, thank you. And I hope that today's an interesting day and looking at your stories and and if you have someone to have a conversation with a stranger or friend or someone, you might have a conversation about what the role stories I have for you, stories have in your life, kind of become wiser about this whole topic of the storytelling mind. Thank you