Do you really need your story? Do you really require anecdotes to qualify your existence? Words give us certainty when we are too afraid to face the chaos they mask.
Reality is not a set of statements. You are not a collection of words. Linearity is the death of the mind, the coma of life.
I used to live with a story. I used to force myself to remember my labels. I used be vigilant of who else might carry those labels to preempt clashes of interest. I used hang on to the story. I used to be a linearity. I used to be a category.
I even used to make the mistake of dismissing my current story as false and illusive, and in the next breath create a new one. And I didn’t even realize that I foolishly tried to solve the problem with the problem.
We can talk a lot about changing narratives without facing the deep flaw in the way we create our narratives. As it is not the story we tell, it is the nature of the language with which we tell the story.
Maybe this begins somewhere completely different. Maybe it’s the unfounded assumptions and dogmas that still persist. That we think in language, only.
As long as we think that this is true, we will never learn to question the flaws of verbal language and liberate ourselves from its strictures.
The Dual Nature
Whatever we might phrase about ourselves tends to turn into its polar opposite if reality decides not to agree with our private fantasy. This is the dual nature of language.
Most negative stories we tell ourselves were not created as negative stories. They used to be positive stories that flipped around themselves as we found out that they were not true.
I’m great until I suck. I’m the best until I’m the worst. I’m awesome until I’m despicable. I bet that sounds familiar.
Changing the story keeps the flaw firmly in place, yet delays the recurrence of the calamity of self-aversion.
The Exclusive Bias
We tend to consider as true what feels familiar. We tend to consider as true the explanation that is the most emotionally satisfying. And we tend to believe that what we think to be true to be the only thing that is true.
The tunnel vision of language makes us dismiss all other options for the one that is familiar and the explanation that makes us feel good. If you are Jane, you are only Jane. If you are a lawyer, that’s all you are.
We might not think so initially, but the labels widen their influence without our awareness until we are locked in.
Sure, we can remind ourselves that the boundaries of the words and labels we use are in reality liquid. But I doubt that this is a sustainable practice. And I have not met, nor read the writings of one person that wasn’t a victim to this tendency.
Distorted & Generalized
We don’t see the world as set of words. But we can convince ourselves of that and live with the consequences of a rigid, conventional, and close minded existence.
Considering that most if not all words were invented by people no smarter than you. How much of everything do we not know yet? How much everything do we not yet know about ourselves? How much of that is impossible for us to know with our tiny brains?
Language is a tool that simplifies our reality, cuts it into small slices and packages it in plastic. And every time we do that, we leave important stuff out. We make things simpler than they are as generalizations, and we change them to fit with what we know as distortions.
If that is our life’s operating system, how can the result not be a catastrophe? If you generalize yourself and distort yourself, if you generalize and distort your reality, what is left that is not mangled by language?
So Are You?
Where does that leave you? Where does that leave your procrustean bed, your map of the world, your narrative, your self-concept?
I have had many discussions with psychologists, philosophers, spiritualists and personal development salesmen. And they would all be eager to agree with the illusion of our self-narrative, yet none would be able to withstand my insistence on them finding an alternative that is not just the same thing: another string of words.
All of the big personal issues we face, are issues of ego that are coded with the glitches of language. They lie in the assumptions about the relationship between reality and the linearizations of our minds. The boxes of our life, the comfort zones of our hearts, the anxieties of existence, the fear for our vanities, the problem of ego, are all a mere consequence of the above.
Unless we learn to pierce through this layer of illusion without invoking language to navigate it, we are doomed to recapitulate the same mistakes that lead into the same pitfalls.
Maybe you are not a category after all. Maybe you are not a succession of phrases after all.
Maybe you are not even that picture in your mind’s eye. Maybe all of the talk is just there to satisfy the longings for a false certainty of a confused self that may not be a self at all.
Maybe, yes, you can see that.