Becoming the author of your own life story
Have you ever felt like you were living a life that was being driven by something else other than you? This article may be able to help you understand why.
When something else is writing your story
In the movie 'Stranger than Fiction', Will Ferrell plays a man who lives a relatively straightforward, if somewhat mundane, life, who is fully of the belief that he is in control of all the decisions he chooses to make.
That is until, one day, he begins to hear a voice narrating his every move. This voice turns out to be an author who is writing the story of his life. It becomes clear that this author is writing the story in a way that is different from what the lead character wants for himself, ultimately leading to a struggle of who gets to decide the main character’s future.
This idea is not new to cinema: movies like 'The Truman Show', where Jim Carrey finds out that his life has been staged by a TV show; or when Keanu Reeves in 'The Matrix' realises people are not in control of their own choices but instead a machine, demonstrate an idea where the main characters are made aware that it is not them who controls their lives, but another 'force' has been in control instead.
Now, for the majority of us, there is not an author writing the script or a TV crew writing the plot, however, one force that could be controlling our lives is our unconscious mind.
How can the unconscious mind control our life?
In order to understand this more, I’ve written out a few scenarios where this may come into play. These can be very common scenarios that happen to each of us.
- Entering into a new relationship, which we presumed was different from the last, only to find that similar patterns from past relationships begin to emerge again.
- Trying to change habits in our life, only to fall back on them after a few weeks.
- Being unable to break addictive behaviours.
- Shouting violently at the driver of the car next to us for the most minuscule of reasons (no matter how justified we tell ourselves our reaction was).
- Having strong emotional connections to certain movies, music, and books, but being unsure as to why we feel that way.
Do any of these sound familiar at all?
How can these behaviours be outside of our control?
It would be nice to believe that every emotion, action, and behaviour we carry out stems from what we’re aware of; a logical decision built on reflection and insight. However, this is not always the case.
The unconscious part of our mind grows from when we’re born. As we grow, we internalise our surroundings, how to build relationships, who we are as a person, how our environment works, and how we interact with it. This starts with our family, and then, as we interact with the wider world, we begin to internalise that too. This internalised blueprint is like a narrator that we’re just not really aware is there, but will be guiding a lot of what we do.
For example, if we get praised for our humour as a child, we may use humour to build friendships in the future. If we were given treats such as chocolates when we did well as a child, we may buy ourselves something nice when we feel we’ve done a good job as an adult.
Most of the time this inner blueprint works perfectly fine, not causing us any issues, such as in the examples above, however if some of that blueprint we’ve internalised comes from difficult events in our life, or from people who didn’t treat us well, then we can potentially be guided in ways which are not helpful for us. At this point in time, it might be that we need to undo this blueprint and begin to rewrite it.
How to write our own story
Being able to write our own story comes from a two-part process. This involves both recognising the patterns, and then working through the emotional reasons that such patterns were there in the first place.
Take, for example, comfort eating. If, as a child, we were emotional, and our parents weren’t there for us, we would have been distressed. We may have then turned to food for comfort, and this took the distress away. Therefore, we may continue to comfort eat as an adult any time we are distressed because it’s a pattern that has worked in the past.
If we can, therefore, confront this pattern and begin to express our feelings without anything bad happening, such as to a person who now listens to us, then the blueprint will change and we won’t have to rely on eating as a way to make ourselves feel better.
The key point here is that these patterns can change. By becoming aware of the patterns and then working through the reason they were there, we can finally become our own author.
Find the right counsellor or therapist for you
All therapists are verified professionals.