The silence between stories

There are levels and layers to the stories we tell and how we construct our reality. Aspects of this construction are conscious, many are subconscious. Some are malleable, others are not.

For example, there are optical illusions that persist even when we know that what we are seeing is an illusion. This leads neuroscientists to hypothesise that the visual cortex operates independently of other brain functions. The part of your brain that “knows” the two lines are the same length doesn’t inform the part that constructs your visual field.

But the stories that come up as thoughts and ideas in our own minds to which we can assent or retrain, these are more conscious and more malleable than the foundational cognitive processes that create our reality.

The stories that interest me are the ones that orient us biographically in real time and in post hoc reflection and debriefing – whether personal or shared. The stories we tell about who we are and what we are doing, have done, and plan to do, and the context in which we do it.

Because these are the stories most easily silenced, and the silence of these stories is freedom. A more pragmatic approach is to simply question whether this story serves me. Am I benefiting from telling this story? Culling the stories that don’t serve is a path to immediate freedom.

As you practice culling stories you might find that they are deeper and more numerous than expected. Like text in an urban environment, we live immersed in a plethora of stories.

But as I practice silencing stories that don’t serve me, it appears that I have the absolute freedom to select or reject them. I’m not swamped by the stories, because the stories themselves have only as much power as we give them.

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