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April 15th, 2020
If our original reason for moving forward does not fit into our narrative as we look back, we often forget how we got going in the first place.
We make sense of our current situation by means of stringing together altered memories in a way that makes a good story. Many of us are often just reacting to present emotions, and our choices based on this somewhat haphazard direction is what guides are life – but no one looks back on their past with a lazy wave of the hand and admits that it was all kind of random and there wasn’t much thoughtful consideration about what to do. Virtually no one is so honest with themselves on this point, and a person with that sort of awareness more likely makes a wiser choice in those moments than kowtowing to a petty and fleeting emotion.
Our mistake is that we conflate storytelling and sense-making. Creating a story out of the raw material of memory does not necessarily mean that we’ve somehow gained any insight into who we are or how we might change. The story of our past functions more as a salve against uncertainty. We tell ourselves a story of who we are and how we got here as a means to give ourselves a sense of agency.
Real agency, however, resides in admitting the lack of coherence in our past decisions and reactions. By seeing clearly how we differ from the story we like to tell ourselves about who we are, that is where real insight lies.
Sense-making exists between storytelling and reality.
Recognizing the discrepancy allows a person the chance to change, and therefore bend reality closer to the story, and likewise, by doing so, the story such a person now spins is also closer to reality.
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