Our inner stories shape us in the most intimate ways.
They are what make us individual, unique.
They are the basis of our beliefs, values, woundings, interpretations, experiences, judgements, perceptual patterns, biases, opinions, attitudes, behaviours and choices.
The whole of our identity is formed on our inner stories.
Our inner stories affect us on a spectrum of influence.
Some of our inner stories sit about halfway along the spectrum, around the neutral influence, on a range from ultra-helpful/happy/loved to devastatingly harmful/traumatic.
Neutral inner stories are rarely ever known or recognised because there is no or little emotional charge to how they play out in our external stories.
All other inner stories have a pleasant or awful emotional charge, to varying degrees.
To understand how to identify the emotional charge you may feel over an inner story, even before you identify the story itself, consider your reactions to movies or fictional books.
Some fictional stories leave you feeling meh.
Others leave you feeling excited, stimulated, happy or loved up.
And yet others leave you feeling on edge, heavy, dark, sad.
For example, these were my reactions the first time I saw these movies:
- “Home” – meh
- “Burlesque” – excited, motivated, happy
- Most Jane Austen movies – sighing in loved-up pleasure
- “The Elephant Man” – heavy, sad
- “Sin City” – traumatised
By remembering and re-feeling our reactions to fiction, it can help us understand the affect our own stories have on us.
In what situations in life do you feel meh? Excited, motivated or happy? Loved up? Heavy, sad or down? Traumatised or hyper-vigilant?
Are there certain people or relationships that have a consistent affect on you?
What affect do specific repeating patterns have on you? Or repeating thoughts, or feelings?
Are there issues or places or events that trigger a specific effect?
You can get a clue as to where on the spectrum of influence an inner story lies, whether you know the inner story or not, by assessing:
- your mood
- the level of emotional charge
- any recurring dreams or thoughts
- any patterns of situations, reactions, behaviours and attitudes
- how heavy and dark, or light and loving, your energy feels
- how truly, fully you’re feeling your feelings
- during or after each situation or pattern.
Tools such as self-inventories and tarot, and practices such as meditation, exercise and mindful breathing can also help.
By using the spectrum of inner story influence, you can better understand how your inner stories affect you in any given moment, and you’ll be able to appreciate the sheer scope, scale and persistent consistency of their effect.
Note: Self-assessing an inner story in this way is one of the first steps you can take if you want to change your harmful inner stories.