We are all wired to create stories. Stories are the way humans make sense of their lives.
The ability to craft stories separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom. Most of the time we don’t even realize we’re creating a story. The guy that cut me off in traffic and made me slam on my brakes: Well, he’s a jerk that doesn’t care about other people, but what can you expect since the bumper sticker on his car proclaims extremely different beliefs from my own. I have made up a simple story. What do I know for sure: he cut me off in traffic. Perhaps he’s distracted because his wife is in the hospital and he’s rushing to get there. Perhaps he just purchased that car and doesn’t hold those beliefs at all. Perhaps he does hold those beliefs but is still a decent human being.
Creating simple stories is one of the mind traps that we all fall into. Jennifer Garvey Berger in her book “Unlocking Leadership Mindtraps,” reminds us that we can’t totally evade this mind trap as we’re human, but what we can do is be aware that it’s happening and interrupt our thinking, and remember they are simple stories, believe in them less, and remind ourselves that there may be other explanations.
One way to avoid simple stories is to remain in the present. The way to remain in the present is through the practice of mindfulness:
Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment, through a gentle, nurturing lens.
Sounds easy but it is difficult because we spend most of our time remembering what has happened or thinking about what’s to come. And it’s in the past and the future where the simple stories live. In the present, there are no stories. The practice of mindfulness underlies all my coaching methodology as it’s through self-awareness that we can become aware of the simple stories we’re telling ourselves about ourselves and our life. And when we can dismantle these stories and the beliefs behind their creation, we can begin the process of true transformation.