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The Stories That Stop Us From Being Present & Taking Action

The narrative machine

The narrative machine
Our minds are wired to come up with narratives (about the world, other people and about ourselves). And these narratives are stopping us from being present and taking action. Examples of stories:

  • If they loved me they wouldn’t be so inconsiderate
  • This is too hard, I don’t want to do this
  • I suck, I keep failing, I am inadequate
  • This shouldn’t be happening to me! This sucks!

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IDEA EXTRACTED FROM:

The Stories That Stop Us From Being Present & Taking Action

The Stories That Stop Us From Being Present & Taking Action

https://zenhabits.net/storytime/

zenhabits.net

5

Key Ideas

Jack Kornfield

Jack Kornfield

"Most of us have spent our lives caught up in plans, expectations, ambitions for the future; in regrets, guilt or shame about the past. To come into the present is to stop the war"

Our blockages

The things stopping us from being present or taking the action we want to take are:
  • The stories we have in our heads about other people, what’s happening, and ourselves.
  • Our habit of staying in those stories instead of being present or taking action.

The narrative machine

Our minds are wired to come up with narratives (about the world, other people and about ourselves). And these narratives are stopping us from being present and taking action. Examples of stories:

  • If they loved me they wouldn’t be so inconsiderate
  • This is too hard, I don’t want to do this
  • I suck, I keep failing, I am inadequate
  • This shouldn’t be happening to me! This sucks!

Dropping the stories

We can’t stop the mind from producing stories but we don't have to cling to them let them occupy our heads.
  • Notice when you’re stuck in a story.
  • Notice that the story is causing you to be stressed or afraid.
  • See if you can drop out of the story and into the present moment.
  • When you go back to your story (because you will), try coming back to the present moment, without judgment. Stay longer.

Taking action

The stories in our heads also stop us from taking the action we want to take in our lives. For example: I don’t know how to tackle this big project, it’s too complicated.

But you don’t need them to take action. Focus on the present, and just act. Take a “don’t know” mindset. Stay present and stay curious as you act. Stop thinking you know what it will be like ahead of time. 

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

The perception of time

Although some physicists would argue against the existence of time, we all do have a perception of time that reflects the reality of our lives on Earth.

False pasts

Most of us forget more than we remember. We change memories to make sense of what has happened in our lives. When we then recall a memory, we reconstruct the events in our minds and even shape them to fit in with any new information.

Understand the future

Many of us think of our past as a kind of a video library where we can look at records of our lives. If memories were fixed like videotapes, you would find it difficult to imagine a new situation.

It is our past memories that help us imagine a future, and to preview future events. This skill of using the past to predict the future helps us try out different hypothetical scenarios before we commit.

one more idea

The Past Is Flexible
The Past Is Flexible

The past, and our understanding of it, is a reflection of our current state of mind.

The past, which is assumed to be static, is in fact constantly changing. Historical fac...

The Stories We Tell About Our Lives

Our story, which we are narrating to others, is constantly changing with our new experiences and insights, as our lives go by.

These stories become our identity and certain core memories, or life events of immense sorrow or happiness, stick with us forever.

Mental Strength For Revisiting The Past

One can change the story of one’s past including what it meant. New lessons can be learned by revisiting the past in an objective manner, without guilt, remorse or any grudge.

Becoming emotionally and mentally tough makes us face our past with courage, and helps us change the meaning of our often traumatic past.

Anxiety vs. Fear
  • Fear is what you feel in the moment when someone comes at you with a knife. 
  • Anxiety is about the anticipation of an event. Anxiety is often problem-solving — but wi...
Mindfulness = anxiety antidote

Trying to push the worries out of your head is inherently problematic because to be vigilant about not thinking about something, your brain needs to keep it in mind. 

Mindfulness does the opposite by making you aware of your state of anxiousness.

Build the Mindfulness muscles
  • Acceptance: accept that the worries are here and stop trying to make them go away.
  • Attention: get out of your thoughts and focus on the world around you.
  • Labeling: When a worry pops up, label it as “a worrying thought.” It’s not you. Do not identify with it and don't let it overtake you.

4 more ideas

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

In the movie, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, the children's TV host Mister Rogers was on a mission to teach children that they mattered, that they could manage their difficult emotions and th...

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

Social connection makes hope possible. This is the message in the film based on the life of 13-year-old William Kamkwamba. The story plays off in Malawi during a famine caused by a series of natural disasters.

William's family cannot afford for him to continue with school, and William is forbidden to return. But William sneaks back into school and gets permission to continue using the school's library. He develops strong ties with his science teacher, librarian, family, friends, and fellow villagers.

He ultimately discovers how wind energy can bring water to his village and save them from perishing.

The Farewell

The Farewell is about a first-generation Chinese immigrant, Billi. She wants to visit her dying grandmother, Nai-Nai, in China, to say goodbye.

Nai-Nai is unaware of the seriousness of her illness while the family believes it is kinder to keep her illness a secret and make her happy. Conflict ensues as Billi wants to tell Nai-Nai the truth. This is a tale of how people express love differently and the quiet wisdom and positive outlook of Nai-Nai.

9 more ideas

Three-Act storytelling structure
Three-Act storytelling structure

One of the oldest and most straightforward storytelling formulas:

  • Setup: Set the scene and introduce the character(s)
  • Confrontation or “Rising action” : Present a p...
Five-Act storytelling structure

Also known as Freytag’s Pyramid:

  • Exposition: Introduce important background information
  • Rising action: Tell a series of events to build up to the climax
  • Climax: Turn the story around (usually the most exciting part of the story)
  • Falling action: Continue the action from the climax
  • Dénouement: Ending the story with a resolution.
Before – After – Bridge storytelling formula
  • Before: Describe the world with Problem A.
  • After: Imagine what it’d be like having Problem A solved.
  • Bridge: Here’s how to get there.

Set the stage of a problem that your target audience is likely to experience ( a problem that your company solves). Describe a world where that problem didn’t exist. Explain how to get there or present the solution (i.e. your product or service).

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Step 4: Bring In The New

Focus on getting rid of the unnecessary and harmful, so you can make way for the new beliefs and ideas about yourself, not based on the past, but on the future you are creating.

If you...

Step 3: Feel That Old Pain

We tend to avoid thinking of painful things. But if you stay with the feeling, the feeling eventually dissipates.

Allow yourself to feel what's associated with past experiences to make the pain and the behaviors it causes go away, leaving only the memories.

Step 2: Identify The Feeling’s Source

The emotion you are feeling today is rooted in the past, in a story that repeats itself because the original feeling has never been dealt with.

The person you think is causing all this pain is just the catalyst for you to uncover your emotional triggers, so you can move past them in a balanced way. Adopting this mindset allows you to go from victim/perpetrator to empowered self-knowing creator.

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False positivity

We are caught up in a rigid culture that values positivity.

However, when we put aside our difficult emotions in order to embrace dishonest positivity, we fail to discover skills that can hel...

Tough emotions are essential for living

How we deal with our emotions affects how we love, how we live, how we parent and how we lead.

We should not view our emotions as good or bad, positive or negative. We need our emotions for real resilience.

Moving Beyond Emotional Rigidity

When we go through tough situations, we cannot ignore our negative emotions with the hope that they don't matter.

Write down what you are truly feeling in a personal notebook. Move beyond the rigidity of denial.

3 more ideas

Thinking like an older person

Thinking like an older person is a conscious practice of gratitude. It means focusing on what is rather than what is not. It also means accepting your mortality and being motivate...

Happiness is a choice

The quality of our lives isn't based on the events of our lives but on the reaction to the events in our lives. 

Make the choice to declare that you won’t be defined or determined by the circumstances of your life. This declaration is liberating.

"Optimism doesn’t mean the future is going to necessarily be better. It means seeing that the present is better."

"Optimism doesn’t mean the future is going to necessarily be better. It means seeing that the present is better."

Survivorship Bias

Survivorship bias is a logical error that twists our understanding of the world and leads to a wrong understanding of cause and effect.

We fall into survivorship bias when we assume that suc...

Against the Odds

When we only pay attention to the exception above the normal, we end up misunderstanding reality. While there is much to learn from the anomalies, it would be a mistake to expect the same results from doing the same things. 

Cause and Effect

Survivorship bias leads us to think that coincidence is a correlation. We want the encouragement from survivorship bias so we can believe in our own capabilities, but it results in an inflated idea of how people become successful.

The fact is that success is never guaranteed. It does not mean that we shouldn't try, just that we should have a realistic understanding.

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Feelings are summary judgments

Most of the time we don’t second guess them, and even if we do, they often end up overwhelming us. 

Negative feelings are very powerful and harder to question: we identify with them effo...

Misunderstanding resilience

Resilience is most times associated with being tough. But that’s not gonna get you very far with feelings. Don't try to be invulnerable. Aim for flexibility instead.

You cannot avoid or resist all pain in life. But you can learn to live with your discomfort better.

"Solving" emotions

We have trouble dealing with feelings because the usual problem-solving rules don't really apply to them.

When faced with a problem, we can always avoid it or deny it. But attempting to resist negative feelings won’t work. Any attempt at suppression only amplifies them. We must go from avoidance to acceptance.

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