“Where do our inner stories come from, Heallen?”
The curious tone from her friend made Heallen pause. It had taken her many years to answer this question for herself. But did she have the full answer yet? And did she have the right to talk to her friend as a non-medical professional?
“All I can tell you is what I’ve found out for myself, Junie. I’m hardly an expert.”
Junie nodded. “I know. But you know way more than I do, and I’m really struggling to understand why some of these shit things keep happening.”
Heallen knew that feeling too well.
“As far as I can tell, from what I know of my own inner stories and what I’ve studied, is that our inner stories come from within us and from everyone around us.”
Heallen continued. “I’ve sorted it out like this. There are two points of origin for our inner stories: ourselves plus other people.
“So, the inner stories that come from us are what we’ve decided must be true in that particular situation. Like, with me, I realised that one of my origin stories was when I was a baby, and I decided that to get my parents’ love, I had to become the tough survivor. They’d admire me for that and so they’d have to love me, surely.”
She paused. How much detail to give?
“What I did in that moment was to use my own interpretation of what my parents wanted of me to create my own inner story that would shape me into a person who could be loved.
“As I grew older, that inner story seemed to come true: My parents seemed to like—and love—me more when I was tough. I then extended that inner story as a toddler to add in ‘smart’—I would get my parents’ love if I was tough *and* smart.
“Of course, it’s all rubbish. My parents have always loved me.”
“I’ve come across a few different ways we create our own inner stories. One’s through our interpretations, like I did when I was baby. Other ways are through our perceptions, our experiences, our woundings and our learnings. And all those ways are so intertwined, it can get messy trying to pinpoint it all.”
Junie nodded again. She was taking this seriously.
“But then, there are the ways that other people can give us our inner stories, or warp the ones we already have. And that’s often through conditioning us. It’s really hard for anyone to know just how much they’ve been conditioned by others, but I reckon it’s a LOT, and it has an even bigger influence on us than the inner stories we create for ourselves. Like, a MUCH bigger influence.”
She paused as a piece of the story puzzle seemed to fall into place. “Hmm . . . Or maybe it’s more likely that the line between what inner stories we create and what inner stories we take on from others is so blurred, that we can’t fully tell the difference.”
She stopped. That realisation felt true. She allowed it to settle into her mind more fully.
Junie shifted in her seat. “Surely we’d know how we’ve been conditioned?”
Heallen looked up at her friend. A sigh whooshed between her lips.
“No. That’s the point about conditioning—it’s so subtle and persistent, that we often don’t know we’re being conditioned; we only know the obvious stuff, like what we’re directly taught about our government or religion or social structure.
“That’s the easy stuff to know about ourselves and the people around us. It’s the conscious stuff.
“What’s not so easy is all the stuff we take on in our minds, and lives, that affect us on a subconsious or unconscious level.”
She stood, picked up the tea tray with the cooling teapot from between them, and walked into the kitchen. As she left the room, she kept on with her topic.
“Stuff like how we’re raised, what beliefs and attitudes are acceptable, what behaviours are allowed, what values we should have. These are all parts of our selves that come from other people. And most of them were never directly spoken to us, but through the actions and words of others, what we saw was acceptable and what wasn’t, what we heard was common and reasonable, and what wasn’t.
“Things like our attitudes around money, or relationships, our expectations for our occupations and lives, our values around commitment and beauty, even our ideas on time and communication, were all seeded inside us without us consciously knowing about it.”
The noises of making a fresh pot of tea escalated for a couple of minutes.
Heallen re-entered the room in a mist of fragrant steam, carrying the refreshed tea tray.
“And then, we behave and think based on those inner stories that everyone else gives us that we didn’t know we had inside us. And they affect our own inner stories, and they make us act and react, and think and feel in ways we often don’t understand why.”
Junie’s head was down. She seemed to be thinking.
Then she poured them both a fresh cup of tea.
Junie looked up. “So . . . you’re saying I’ve got all these stories inside me that I didn’t put there, but that are probably why all this shit happens to me when I’m pretty darn sure I didn’t bring that shit into my life?”
Heallen nodded. “Especially if it’s a repeating pattern of shit, then, yes, your inner stories are most likely compelling you to experience certain things. And until you change your inner story, those shit patterns will continue.”
Junie’s eyes widened in horror.
Heallen reached over and touched Junie’s nearest upper arm. “If you’re really worried, then please go see a professional, Junie. I’m no medical expert.”
Junie was quiet for so long, Heallen became concerned.
Her friend started. Blinked. Looked up at her. “I think you’re right. I think I’ve been so busy trying to change my external stories, that I haven’t paid anywhere near enough attention to my inner ones.
“And that’s something I intend on changing, starting today.”
We have no real clue our inner stories are there, but we sure know that *something* is compelling us to act, react, think and feel in specific ways.
Those inner stories form our beliefs, values, woundings, attitudes and expectations, and originate from our conditionings, perceptions, experiences and other triggers of learning.
Similar to the Iceberg of culture (C Lago), our inner stories that we consciously use to direct externally-based happenings, thoughts, feelings and experiences, are only the tip of the whole of our inner stories, and their impact.
And, therefore, our life.
Most of our inner stories, similar to the majority of the bulk of the iceberg being hidden under water, are beyond our view; they are unknown, submerged under our consciousness in the shadowy depths of our subconscious and unconscious.
They take root in our very cells—that is how deep and firm a hold our inner stories, no matter where they came from, have on us.