What's your narrative?

nar·ra·tive
noun
1.  a spoken or written account of connected events; a story.
2. a representation of a particular situation or process in such a way as to reflect or conform to an overarching set of aims or values.

During my 12-week Vedic Meditation teacher training in India, we did a lot of meditation, and, by extension, a lot of soul-searching. Throughout the training, one theme that kept resurfacing for me was narratives. They fascinate me. Narratives are the stories we tell ourselves to explain the world around us, and we do so according to our agenda, our state of mind. We all have our own narratives. Without realizing it, we pick out ‘clues’ and ‘evidence’ from our lives that will agree with our narratives. How many times have we told ‘our side’ of a story, and insisted that we are being objective? ‘Of course I’m right,’ we think, ‘and here are all the reasons why.’

The truth is, we see what we want to see. We feel what we want to feel. We hear what we want to hear. We interpret what we see, feel and hear according to our mindset in that moment, on that day, during that week/month/year. When we’re in a bad mood, we might take feedback as a personal attack, but when we’re in a more receptive mood, we might be thankful that someone took the time to help us improve. Same words, different state of mind.

We might be afraid that our girl/boyfriend/spouse/partner is going to leave us, so we interpret everything he/she does as evidence to prove it. The evidence? He or she didn’t kiss me this morning, or didn’t buy me a nice birthday gift, or seemed angry at me last night, or didn’t call me. Our narrative gives us justification to act accordingly. I should be angry! I have been mistreated! This person is obviously bad because they are doing all these things to me.

Want to know a secret? It’s not about me! It’s never about me. Clinging to this victim narrative only causes suffering.

What would happen if we shifted our outlook and stopped the blame game? What if our partner spent hours trying to figure out what to get us for our birthday because they truly wanted us to be happy? What if they seemed angry because they were upset about something that happened that day at work? What if they didn’t kiss us this morning because they were afraid they had coffee breath? What if it wasn’t about anything we said or did? What if they actually do love us? What if we were worthy of that love? What would that world look like? 

It’s not easy to escape from our victim mentality. Many of us have been living that way our whole lives. Happiness can even seem scary, because it’s unknown. And maybe, consciously or deep inside ourselves, we don’t think that we deserve it.

What’s your narrative? How can you shift your view of the world to one that supports love, creativity, bliss and connection with life? Start slow. Give someone the benefit of the doubt. When you find yourself slipping into the victim role (‘I can’t believe this happened to me again!’), take a timeout and think of 3 other reasons to explain your circumstances. Even if they don’t pan out, just getting in the habit of thinking that way will help. Find a practice that allows you to see the oneness in the world, that allows you to feel connected to life. For me, it was Vedic meditation. For others, it is yoga, or gardening, or cycling, or showing gratitude. We aren’t meant to suffer. We deserve love and a life of fulfillment.

How will you re-claim your narrative?