Stories We Tell Ourselves In Order To Live


There are stories we tell ourselves in order to live. Narrative fictions we create in order to make sense of our own personal Chaos. Every woman and man has an origin myth, an epic poem of their lives. This is not to say that everyone imagines themselves to be the hero of some story but that people naturally transform their memories of their past into something coherent that they can look back on and learn from. For some of us, that coherent something is a simple lesson. I know people for whom their narrative of trials and triumphs can be boiled down into simple affirmations like “Let go and let god” or “Whatever will be, will be.” For some, these affirmations might be simple but they are powerful. They become mantras that we repeat to ourselves when the chips are down and our backs are against the wall. For others they are cop outs, ways in which we can make some semblance of order to the world without having to navigate the depths of our paths. Still others have not boiled down their narratives to affirmations. Instead they have fragmented memories, each with a specific lesson that they learned, a skill gained or belief affirmed. The rest are left with questions: why do good things happen to bad people? Why is life so hard? What is the point?

Of course, the state of these stories we tell ourselves is in construct flux. We may, in our childhood, think that each memory is a lesson and later come to see our childhood as the proof positive of a belief. We may have developed a subconsciously cherished narrative of our lives, of how we went from little girls idealizing our parents’ marriage to grown women seeking that commitment in our current relationships only to have our parents’ divorce force us to change that narrative.

I’ve spent a lot time thinking about narratives. I suppose it comes with the territory of always been on the edge of writing that novel. Recently though, I’ve been thinking about the story I tell myself in order to live. How have I made sense out of the chaos? What truths have a found and what falsehoods have been substituted for truths too difficult to face?

My life has had a lot of ups and downs. I used to tell myself that I was lucky. It was a way for me to make it through the difficult times. No matter how bad things got, I got always count on that lucky break. As I got older I had to learn how to limit the ups and downs and plan for crisis ahead of time. Now that I’ve had a few months of internal stability and life’s ups and downs seem to easier to overcome I’m finally in place to devise a plan without fear, worry or insecurity. Of course, you can’t effectively plan ahead without making some sense of where you are and where you are is influenced by were you’ve been.

So I’ve been thinking a lot about the story I will tell me self, to make sense of the chaos. The story I will tell myself in order to live. I’d like to hear from other people though. What are the stories [with varying degrees of veracity to be sure] that you tell yourselves in order to live?

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