How well does your iPhone function when the storage is full?
I will bet you know the answer to this question, and I would like for you to imagine how your brain would work if there was room for nothing more. So, what is taking up all of the space?
Narrative is like a computer software that’s been running in our brain since the day we were born. Many other programs installed thereafter are highly dependent on it. When we install too many programs on a system, it runs out of storage and slows down the operation. Our brain works in the same way.
We have all these narrative based programs installed in different stages of life. Yet, we have no understanding of why and where they are located in our brain. All we see is the emotions and behaviors that come up when the program runs. If too many programs are running, we find ourselves depressed. It gets to a point where we feel overloaded with unpleasant experiences, and our brain (or our experience of self) becomes overwhelmed.
The narratives we tell ourselves about ourselves can be traced down into the three seed narratives:
1. I’m bad: A self-blame narrative that comes up when we believe there’s something fundamentally wrong about us.
2. I’m alone: A solitary feeling when we believe no one else understands us in the world.
3. I’m not safe: A self-defense mechanism to protect ourselves from someone or something that we believe is out there to harm us.
If we don’t educate ourselves to become aware of these seed narratives and the forms in which they show up, our brain gets overloaded with negative emotions, unwilling behaviors and all these consequences we suffer from believing in the narratives.
The process of introspection intends to bring the OG narrative software up to the surface, and offers us the opportunity to rewrite the storage space with values of the highest nature.
When I used to craft an art piece, I would sometimes approach it with the intention of receiving attention from others. If I get compliments, I feel motivated to keep crafting. But when no one interacts with it, I get disappointed. Crafting was a heavy feeling: “I’m bad because I’m unattractive and boring.” I have to constantly prove otherwise to myself and others. With a little work, I gave up the narrative and rewrote it with a value of mine: Craftsmanship. It’s simply the pure joy of creating something out of nothing, the enjoyment of a process that doesn’t lead to anywhere. The mindset of Wabi Sabi that nothing is perfect, and imperfection is the beauty. Crafting to me now is freeing.
It’s simply the pure joy of creating something out of nothing, the enjoyment of a process that doesn’t lead to anywhere.
Everyone has different values, but most of them get overshadowed by narratives. We accumulate constant stress in life when the things we do daily don’t align with our values. Therefore, it’s important to take that first step towards what we value the most.
What do you value in your life right now that is not pressured by something or someone? Write them down. Remind yourself daily, and take the actionable steps. It doesn’t have to be a leap. Start from atomic habits. Do one thing that gets you closer to your value, and do it everyday for a year.