by Jack Henry
Are we all storytellers even if we don't write?
|We create a narrative for our lives. Some stories are good, others not so.
Self-talk or inner speech is an inner narrative which gives a voice to our thoughts while we are awake. Dramatists use a monologue or soliloquy to tell the audience what a character is thinking. They sometimes use it to share information with the audience. But what of the stories we tell ourselves? Why do we do it and can they affect us?
For most of us, the answer is yes, and our story can impact everything we do. Tell ourselves a bad story and our life can be hell.
Introspection is the examination of our own conscious thoughts. It also involves a look at our soul in a spiritual context. For thousands of years, people talked about the inner voice. Plato once questioned, “...why should we not calmly and patiently review our own thoughts”. Self-reflection is an image we have of ourselves and is hard to change. It comes from things learned about who we are.
Research has shown human brains can only experience one thought at a time as a fast-flowing stream. Buddhist scriptures describe it as the 'Mind Stream'. Practicing mindfulness is being aware of the moment-to-moment events in our lives and how we react. Buddhist teachings say the mental and material events created by the senses: seeing, hearing, tasting, touch, and thoughts are related to the past, present, and future.
In literature, the technique of narrating the flow of thoughts and feelings in the minds of characters is called stream of consciousness. Stream of consciousness is a literary device which gives the writer the ability to tell an audience or reader what a character is thinking. It can be a loose selection of thoughts in connection with how the person feels or reacts to something.
Authors, however, did not invent stream of consciousness but the term was coined by eminent psychologist William James. Susan Blackmore, visiting professor, University of Plymouth describes it this way, “When I say that consciousness is an illusion I do not mean that consciousness does not exist. I mean that consciousness is not what it appears to be. If it seems to be a continuous stream of rich and detailed experiences, happening one after the other to a conscious person, this is the illusion.”
We know a negative self-talking story is associated with psychological disorders such as low moods affecting how we behave, and our sense of well-being. It can also lead to a sense of dread and turmoil resulting in loss of sleep.
In the next blog, I look at ways to tell ourselves a better story.