The stories we love to tell ourselves

At some time in every mindfulness course I talk about storytelling. More specifically our tendency to create stories. How often do we create great yarns by embellishing the basic or limited details to hand. Almost without passing a thought as to its completeness, we extrapolate narratives on whatever information we have. What are the consequences of these creations?

I recently happened upon this video which so wonderfully illustrates that point. Please watch, it is only one minute – click on the image or words. It is based upon a psychological research dating back to the 1940s, work carried out by Heider and Simmel.

heider-simmelClick to Watch video.

So what has your brain done. What is the story that you have created for yourself.

What you have watched is nothing more than essentially the movement of geometric shapes in two dimensional space, yet I wonder what you told yourself. Or what you are thinking now…. or, what might you be feeling.

We create stories for ourselves everywhere. It is a wonderful part of our brain that gives birth to a richness of culture and diverse entertainments. However it is worth observing that here we have just created a detailed story unprompted – probably emotionally embellished with real feelings for each of the protagonist “shapes” – around no more than ambiguous piece of animation.

So one of the challenges is to see when we are telling ourselves stories rather than simply acknowledging what is actually being presented before us. Developing an awareness of the story teller is a first step towards recognising the teller’s tales.

These tales – be they about colleagues, family or even horses – engage our emotions as we have seen. Running our emotions nearly always have some impact, not just for ourselves, but those with whom we are interacting. What about the stories we so often tell ourselves about our horses behaviour! Or the motivations of a next door neighbour. 

I wonder how often these lead to a positive outcome for all parties? Be they human or equine.

So I present you a challenge – find your storyteller in 2017 and engage them – know when it is their voice that is engaging you. And then when you hear their voice, you can pause and ask yourself whether this course really leads to the appropriate reaction. And if it is not, you now have yourself an invitation to intervene with the narrative, and so by default also with your emotions.

How might this help you?

How might this work with friends and colleagues?

How might this be for your horse?


(c) The Mindful Horse