“It’s important to pause, calm the mind and witness our thoughts, if only to check that the storyline in our mind reflects reality”
– Headspace Daily Session 11 Jan 2017
The above quote from my meditation this morning stuck with me the whole day. It caused me to think about the times that I’ve carried storylines with me for weeks, months or even years that are outdated and no longer rooted in reality.
Storylines are important. They’re carried around as identifiers, as markers of who we are and what we’ve come from. We use them to portray who we are to others and to understand ourselves. They’re part of the narrative that describes our past and guides our future.
However, we often forget to check them and see if they need updating. We become so good at talking about the storyline that it becomes second nature. It plays in our head like a song on repeat and becomes background noise that we’re not even aware of.
Accounting for everything
An example from my life was in 2016 when I started my Masters. I’d fought for years and finally broken away from the accounting path that I had hated. I’d made it into my dream degree, the Masters in Economic Development, and I was so happy.
Yet the accounting storyline stuck in my mind. I’d use it to introduce myself wherever I went. I’d say “Hi, I’m Rowan. I studied accounting for a few years and hated it. But now I’m doing development”
It also still played in my mind all the time. I’d compare myself to my accounting friends and the experiences they were having. And I’d feel insecure about my decision despite knowing it was the right one.
Only when it was pointed out to me by my friend Lexi did I realise that I was holding on to an outdated storyline. We were walking around Capri in June 2016. It was 6 months after starting Masters and a week after we met 3 Nobel Prize winners in economics. She called me out on how my storyline no longer reflected my reality and that I needed to update it.
It was a massive revelation. It took me a little while to unpack, but once I did I was so much freer. And my thoughts and decisions began to match my new storyline.
Touch, pause, engage
I know that I am still likely to carry storylines with me that no longer reflect reality. We all are. But we need to make sure we stop every now and then, look inside and see what storylines we’re holding on to. And if they no longer reflect reality we need to allow ourselves the space to understand, unpack and update them.
In doing this, we’ll have more space in our minds to shape new storylines and influence our realities, now and in the future.
Image was taken on a boat in the Mediterranean, with Capri in the background. It was just after Lexi had called me out on my outdated storyline 🙂
Thesis update: bit of a frustrating day BUT I finally have a meeting with my supervisor tomorrow!
Blog 65/365. Read more about my #365of25 journey here
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