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Narrative Excavation – Part 5

Punching the Balloon

Have you ever seen a child punching a balloon with a weight attached at the bottom? 

Imagine there was a balloon that had a clown face painted on it. We try to punch it in the face but it stands back up. We try it again, the balloon falls, and it stands up again. The clown face is smiling back as if he is teasing us.

Dealing with the Seed Narratives is very much like the process of punching a balloon with the clown face. It doesn’t matter how many times we try to resist it, it will come right back at our face again. With practice, it could lessen the frequency of their occurrence, but if we encounter a traumatic experience it’s possible they might pop up strong again. What can we do then?

The intention of this practice is never to push away the narratives forever. In other words, if we try to stop the thoughts from coming every time we encounter a Seed Narrative, it will keep coming back with the same stupid clown face and thus we get nowhere. At the end, it still has the control of our behaviors since we still react to it, just in a different way.

The intention of this practice is to observe. Learn to become familiar with the balloon. Accept it as what it is. Instead of fighting against it, we can simply notice it and choose not to react. Over time, we become skilled at seeing the balloon for what it is, and maybe it will even seem silly to us.

In order to represent our commitment to this process, we can use something called the “give up statement.” The give up statement is an acknowledgement of an ongoing process of observation, but not a quick solution. We need to repeat the whole process enough times so that It helps us to relinquish our attachment to the Seed Narratives. Once our beliefs in the Seed Narratives start to fade down, it’s the perfect time to look for possibilities in absence of the seeds. We can then see a better experience of things when we don’t take the narratives so seriously. 

Give up statement:

I give the narrative that I am (seed narrative) because I am (manifestation).

 

For example:

In the case of using the give up statement, he would first take a deep breath, feel himself connected to the earth, and say it to himself in the brain “I give up the narrative that ‘I am bad’ because ‘I am annoying”.

Peter sees himself as an annoying person. One time, a guy he was talking to told him to shut up. This immediately triggered his emotional reactions from the narrative “I am annoying”. In the case of using the give up statement, he would first take a deep breath, feel himself connected to the earth, and say it to himself in the brain “I give up the narrative that ‘I am bad’ because ‘I am annoying’”.

Let’s do a quick review of manifestation. Manifestation is the particular form in which you are telling yourself the Seed Narratives consistently over time. It is the last layer before the seeds when you trace your narrative back to a seed. It will almost never take the form of anything too complicated such as “I have social disorders”, but rather a simple phrase that feels like a dagger stabbed right into your heart when you say it to yourself. Take the example we just used here: “I am annoying”.

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Whew…

With all of the hard work, we’ve finally reached the end. So far we’ve learned to identify narratives and trace them down into the seed narratives. Once we become aware of them, we can excavate their consequences and motives to the surface. Then, by writing down the possibilities in absence of these narratives, we have a clear comparison between its consequences and possibilities. We can go ahead and ask ourselves: “Do I really want the consequences of believing in these narratives, or do I want the possibilities without them?” If we chose the latter, we could use the give up statement to ease up our attachment to these narratives.

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Great! We’ve finally made progress in changing our beliefs and subsequent behaviors. Humans however, behave according to their beliefs and our old belief system just fell apart. In which direction do we go now? 

Fortunately, everyone deep down in their consciousness has something called highest values. Highest values are the experience we want/value even when the Seed Narratives and their manifestation are completely absent. It’s not a short-term or immediate desire like “I want to eat chocolate now”, but a more comprehensive one that includes all the other small wants and desires. For example, one of my highest values is movement exploration. I value a lot in exploring the potentials of my body. Whenever a narrative like “I have to train today to maintain the aesthetic of my body” became absent, I’d lean towards the direction of self-exploration and play. Within my value in movement exploration, there are smaller desires such as “I want to learn to dance” or “I want to travel the world to meet new practitioners” encompassed to fulfill the bigger picture.

No more worrying about what we are supposed to do, what the society wants us to become, or the other internal and external stress that comes from believing in a narrative in response to traumatic events.

By pursuing our highest values, we would now have options to behave in a way that truly hits the target in our heart. No more worrying about what we are supposed to do, what the society wants us to become, or the other internal and external stress that comes from believing in a narrative in response to traumatic events.

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For our final assignment, we would like you to list out your highest values and a few subcategories within them. Please note that some of our highest values could be subject to change, so this will not be your final answer. It’s merely a starting point. Once you write them down, take it with you. Every time you encounter a Seed Narrative in the future, apply the Narrative Excavation framework to clear out the narratives first. Then, remind yourself with these highest values so that you can behave in a way that aligns with them.

Only consistent practices can yield long-term results which could potentially change our permanent sense of identity.

Remember, finishing all the assignments here is not the end of your Narrative Excavation practice. This is a tool for us to carry for life. Only consistent practices can yield long-term results which could potentially change our permanent sense of identity.

Please also be cautious that since the nature of this practice is dealing with some of the deepest underlying motives for human behavioral traits and patterns, It should not be taken lightly. If you or someone you know is going through a psychological disorder, it is advised to go to a professional to seek direct help.

Finally, we’d like to acknowledge Devin P. Kelly one last time for this valuable practice. Studying from him has been one of my best learning experiences of all time. Thank you Devin. Follow and find more of his work at his instagram page @devinpkelley.

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