Humans are storying beings. We think in story, communicate in story, and dream in story. While it could be possible to think and communicate using bullet-pointed phrases stating a series of facts, this is so foreign to the human experience that it seems almost absurd. We craft stories when we relate to our friends, or a partner, about an incident that occurred during the day, altering the story to be humorous, tragic, or heroic depending on our audience and intended effect. We tell interpretive stories when we determine why we think someone else did something or said something. It is one of the primary ways humans communicate, as well as a way to help understand and situate ourselves in the world. It gives us a grasp on the symbols and archetypes in our dreams, and fuels our mythologies.
But where do these stories come from? Our particular stories develop as we take in information through sensory experiences and then run this information through our mind’s memory banks. Have I felt or experienced something like this before? Does it feel scary? Comforting? Do I want more of it? Do I want to run away from it?
Based on these assessments, we contextualize our experiences, and envision and project them out onto the world, constructing a story. The emotion generated by these stories often results in an impulse to react to them.This then creates a more elaborate story, based in further complexes, and then a reaction to the story of someone else’s reaction to our story. It becomes a web of narratives that weaves the master story of our sense of reality, which then reveals and projects our collective complexes.
These stories operate under the radar in the psyche, just under the surface of the conscious mind. And when this whole process happens unconsciously, we find ourselves in a state of constant reactivity, preoccupied by our fears and our need for survival. But when the process becomes conscious, we find that, rather than following impulsive reactions, we can choose our responses more thoughtfully. And sometimes, we may even determine that no response is needed at all.
So how do we find those hidden stories that lie just under the surface of our consciousness, in the shadows?
The shadow is the part of our psyche that we can’t easily see, but with active self-awareness, we can follow the breadcrumbs of our stories back to their source. And once there, we might just find that we’ve been fighting windmills like Don Quixote. We have created an entire story of enemies and challenges that don’t even exist. This is not to minimize actual life challenges and antagonists that cross our paths, but it is to be able to discern more accurately who and what those adversaries are. And if, sometimes, they are merely story constructions that arose from those hidden places; the places that keep the stories of truly who we are, and what we need, just out of reach.
In the course Shadow Work & Unstorying, Nicole K. Miller invites us to work with the shadow integration process she has created called Unstorying. It helps us see and understand the stories we carry through life. What if we could look into the hidden stories, which guide our thoughts and actions far more than we imagine, and bring them more to light? Learn More Here.
Nicole K. Miller
Dr. Nicole K. Miller of Minding the Story is the founder of the process of Unstorying, which offers an empathy-based, narrative-focused, shadow integration process for personal and collective change.More Posts by Nicole K. Miller