"There isn't anyone you couldn't love once you've heard their story."
A dear friend of mine said to me the other day: "most of us try to change our circumstances instead of trying to change our perception of our circumstances". When I first heard this I thought; well, that sounds about right. Changing your circumstances would mean that you're dealing with reality. It would mean that you're addressing whatever it is you're dealing with in life. Changing your perception on the other hand seems to be a denial of reality! Then my friend challenged me further and said; "but what is reality?". At this point I thought to myself; oh' brother, this is definitely going to turn into one of those spiritual or philosophical debates, isn't it?
But now that I think about it, he was actually right. Most of how we see the world and how we experience the world around us is based on our perceptions. Those perceptions are based on the stories we tell ourselves. This is not to say that there is no objective truth out there, I strongly believe that there is, but I've come to believe that only a very small part of it influences how we experience the world around us.
All the stories in our head, like: 'I'm not good enough, promoted enough, rich enough, thin enough or successful enough' are essentially just thoughts. And as we know, thoughts influence actions and these influence reality (or still, our perception of reality)
The next question then becomes: why do we tell ourselves these stories?
Now more than ever, there seems to be a mutual understanding that stories matter. Look at these few quotes below:
"Stories are just data with a soul" Brene Brown
"There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you." Maya Angelou
But why? Why are stories such a big part of who we are.
I think in part it's because stories allow us to attach meaning to our lives, they allow us to care and they give us our identities. This is great for the most part. The only trouble is when our stories suspend reality or make us see the world from one rigid point of view. What's interesting is that we can make up a story about someone (with no objective evidence) the instant we meet them. We can make up strories about who they are based on how they look, how they talk and what they do for a living! That's called first impressions, right?
These 'first impressions' or what we should really call assumptions about others can make us less tolerant to those who are different, less likely to open ourselves up to them or in some cases they can leave us in a loved crazed frenzy, if we like what we see. Basically these stories, which have no substance or basis, can inform the future of our most important relationships and how we experience life.
I absolutely love this quote by author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie;
"The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story. Many stories matter. Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign. But stories can also be used to empower, and to humanize. Stories can break the dignity of a people. But stories can also repair that broken dignity."