Human-beings are exceptional storytellers. You don’t need to be an accomplished public speaker or seasoned performer for this be the case. From the time we are kids with sponge-like imaginations, we tell ourselves a certain story from the things we experience.
But what’s challenging about having storytelling in our DNA, is that we’re often not fully aware of the stories that we inadvertently or unconsciously carry around with us each day… And whether or not they are weighing us down on the journey to find confidence and happiness.
Matt Damon and Robin Williams capture the struggle beautifully in this iconic scene from Good Will Hunting.
(TW: Domestic violence themes discussed)
We each hold beliefs that shape our interaction with the world and with ourselves. Formed in our early years, many of these beliefs are unconscious, making it easy for them to become ‘part of the furniture’ in our minds, and therefore hard to question. Often, it’s not until we’re able to connect with an objective point of view — possibly with the help of a healthcare professional, family member or trusted companion — that we understand at times, our beliefs can reflect a subjective interpretation that may be holding us back.
What we can learn from Good Will Hunting is how influential our beliefs can be, and how crucial it is to meet our deepest hurt, fears and regrets with compassion.
Based on our past experiences and history, this narrative we construct about our lives is often lacking self-compassion and empathy. Being able to reflect on our stories and our past with compassionate enquiry can help us positively re-shape the narrative we tell our future selves.
Embracing new beliefs is a lifelong journey, especially when they address our deepest pain, or not enoughness stories. We need to give ourselves permission to go slowly and gently, and to remember that we’re worthy of support and unconditional love at every stage of the process. Even when — and especially when — we struggle to make changes. After all, we can never be expected to out-smart our innate negativity bias without patience and guidance. It takes time (and company!) to learn how to create new thoughts, new meaning, and ultimately, new behaviours.
So, if there’s something we could all use more of when it comes to becoming more aware of our belief system… It’s compassionate inquiry. Starting small, treading gently, and staying patient, knowing that we need each other to reflect on the past, and to dream for the future.
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