Stories solidify, feelings flow

We humans are brilliant at storytelling, and, judging from the endless stream of movies, plays, TV shows, and celebrity gossip columns, we entrance ourselves with both telling them and hearing them. The stories might be long and drawn out: ‘Once upon a time, there was a little girl who went out into the forest…” “Have you heard what happened to Bob in Accounting when his wife found out what he was really doing when he said he was working late?” “It was the best of times….”

Or the stories might be brief, which are really just beliefs disguised as stories:

“The world is clearly heading for disaster.”

“Oh, what a beautiful day!”

“From the day we met, you never have understood me!”

Telling a story is a wonderful way to solidify our consciousness at a certain level. The sensory details we add, the beliefs we weave in, the emotions we evoke in others all act to cement us in at the state we’re describing. The stories become so convincing, it can be difficult to discern that it’s all arguable, someone’s opinion or simply a reflection of the state they were in at the time they invented the story.

While stories solidify our consciousness, paying attention to our sensations and emotions allow it to flow, shift, and change. Notice what happens when we turn our attention from the arguable”you never have understood me” to the unarguable”I notice that my teeth are clenched, my neck is tight, and my stomach is in a knot. I feel angry, and with that anger I feel afraid that I don’t know how to make myself clear.” The first statement solidifies the story, giving the other person very little room to do other than defend. The second shifts the focus to something that can easily change, sensations and emotions. Like the sun shining on ice and turning it to flowing water, our attention away from story and to feelings allows our inner–and relational–world to expand and move.

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