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#076: "Do you think stories can ever be harmful?"

Updated: Oct 10, 2022

Oxherd Boy comic showing the boy asking the ox whether stories can be harmful. The ox replies yes, especially those we tell and believe about ourselves. Beautiful Chinese painting inspiring words

Perspectives from Koret Munguldar, psychotherapist and meditation teacher based in Istanbul, Turkey. Here are her perspectives:

Growing up, we often develop narratives about who we are, and we believe these stories define us. They may have themes like: ⁠

✏️ “I am a failure.”⁠

✏️ “I have to be perfect.”⁠

✏️ “I can only be successful if I do everything.”⁠

✏️ “I can never be calm, I thrive on anxiety.”⁠

✏️ “I am only attracted to certain kinds of people, and this is my fate.”⁠

✏️ “I am not good with things related to my body.”⁠

And often, they emerge from our closest relationships. For example, a child who grows up with a mother suffering from depression may try to make her happy. He might do all he can just to get her to play with him briefly or just to see her smile, but she remains disengaged. This constant effort and failure to lift his mother's depressed state becomes part of the child’s inner dynamic, and continues to impact his life well into adulthood at a subconscious level. He lives his life believing the story “I am a failure.”⁠

More generally, many other messages that we receive from our peers, schooling, and society at large, continuously shape the stories we tell about ourselves. All of us are vulnerable to adopting the story of “I have to be perfect to be loved, but I am never good enough,” because we are surrounded by external expectations to adhere to criteria set by others.⁠

💛 As we start to heal through connecting with our true self, whether through therapy, introspection, or practicing mindfulness, we become aware of the stories we tell ourselves on a daily basis. ⁠

💛 We remember that while we may have believed them for a long time, they are simply stories, and we can choose to not be limited by them. We can open ourselves up to experiencing life with a different perspective. ⁠

💛 We all have our own unique stories, and we all have the ability to recognize them and add a little distance between ourselves and those narratives. ⁠

What is your most common story? If I asked you to describe yourself what stories would you tell? Where did you learn them?⁠

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