I've got about a billion stories that I tell myself daily. Most of them are not out of choice, but out of habit. I know that on any given day, at any given time, I'm not doing enough. At least, that's how the story goes. Today I want to focus on the Master Story. The story that underpins almost all of the rest of the stories that we are actively selling ourselves on. That Master Story is this: You've got it figured out, and you know how the world works.
Here are some examples of how that Master Story has shown up in my life:
- I know how people will hold me. Such a silly story. I have it that my opinions about how people will receive me are accurate and valid. "I can't go and just talk to that person, they'll think I'm obnoxious and be itching to escape the conversation". Maybe yours sounds like, "There's no way I can talk to that girl, she's tired of guys approaching her and talking to her".
- People objectively feel the way I believe they feel. Whatever "this way" happens to be. I had a client refuse to do an exercise with me, because she had it that she was correct about how people would react and respond to it. (And from that place, she's right - more on this in a bit)
- I can predict how things will go. If I do X, Y will happen. In the past, people have made fun of me when I've shown up vulnerably, so that's what will happen in the future.
Ultimately, the Master Story is really just the belief that our own perceptions and interpretations - our own stories - are right.
The Master Story is evolutionary. It is essential for humans to have gotten to here. Without it, we would never have concluded that, because the tiger ate my friend last night, he is likely to try and eat me tonight.
But we're not getting eaten by tigers anymore. We've inadvertently taken that Master Story and applied it to things that aren't truly threatening. Please disregard these last couple of paragraphs if you are actively fighting tigers. I don't want to be sued when you get eaten by a tiger (also, you should request a complimentary session, because I am curious about your life).
I grew up and learned that vulnerability was dangerous, and people would make fun of you if you didn't show up the right way. That was a major hindrance for me as I became a man, and even more so once I started working on my own. Coaching is about total authenticity. Speaking to your client what you see. Imagine how much I would be held back if I was managing my story about how people would perceive me if I asked them the "wrong" question.
The Master Story tells you: "I am right about my perceptions."
And yah, you actually can be. Hopefully by now you've started to realize that you're secretly gathering evidence that proves you right. It's what we do - we create confirmation bias. So, when we start from the place of the Master Story, and then actively gather evidence in support of it, you can imagine that there's not a lot of room for possibility, or creating something different.
It goes one step further. When we enter into situations with a preconceived idea of how it will go, we tend to create that result.
If I approach my wife thinking "She's not going to want to kiss me anyhow, but I might as well try", imagine how that will come off in my body language. Imagine what she might pick up on when I approach that way. Then, throughout that process, I will continue gathering evidence in support of my story, and reacting every time I'm "proven right". The Master Story stops you getting eaten from tigers, but it also stops you creating something different and transforming.
So, will it go the same way this time? Or will you create something different? Do you want to be right, or do you want to blaze a new trail? You actually get to say.
What are the things in your life that you're currently right about? What does that make impossible in your world and life? (You're not allowed to cheat and say "nothing is impossible")