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5 Sayings That Contribute To Collective Narrative

It’s time to change our story.


Peter Middleton

4 months ago | 7 min read


These may be keeping us stuck.

New neuroscience from Lisa Feldman Barrett suggests that our brains construct reality from three environments: Memory banks, internal sensations, and external stimulus.

Fascinating right?! In every moment, our body-mind is scanning these three areas and working out the best way to construct a reality out of them.

The three must be congruent, of course — this is why you must go on the inner journey — the hero’s journey, to discover who you indeed are. What your conditioning was like, where you grew up, the things that you forgot about that affect your mindsets.

The somatic journey is a vital part of this, as it’s a massive part of this equation.

There are very few people out there advancing people’s understanding of their bodies, find one of them.

Another curious aspect of this is the beliefs that we have; the phrases, words, somatic imprints — implicit memories, and upper limits we hold in place. These come from a space of survival as our brains tend to favour the familiar. Unfamiliar typically led to danger in the wildernesses of where our brains developed.

Upper limits are edges to this familiarity, but they tend to come through in things such as:

  • I couldn’t ask my boss for more money; I’ll be sacked.
  • I can’t tell my partner how I feel, she won’t like it, and I want to please her.
  • He’ll never go for that; he doesn’t like art.

An inspiring conversation is around the collective narrative.

There’s a lot of counter-movements to the version of capitalism that we’ve all been conditioned with; mainly because the story that it gives us is dehumanising; encourages you to work longer, progress faster, define yourself in material form and stay longer at work.

Almost all of us will spend as much time with our work colleagues as our families. That’s concerning in many ways, and it might be a marker for the huge drive towards a connecting company culture; building a nurturing and inspiring atmosphere at work.

Let’s take a look at the core of this narrative and try and find a way to rehumanise.

I’m not enough.

“I’m not enough” is one of the most common core narratives on the earth. Louise Hay, a famous healer, centred a large portion of her work around allowing people to feel good enough. Her experience of healing was that almost everyone struggled with not feeling good enough to do something that they wanted.

When you think of the challenges that we are facing at the moment as a race, you might notice that most of them include a ‘collective upper limit’ of not feeling good enough.

In other words, we’re facing the unfamiliar as a collective, as well as individuals.

It’s important to use discernment here because knowing you’re not good enough can be a catalyst to learn the skills you need, expand in knowledge, or ask for help — due to healthy shame.

‘I am not good enough’ comes from a toxic shame, where you translate your inadequacies into being inadequate as a person; you don’t recognise that you have the capacity of neuroplasticity, that you can rewire your life.

Change takes resources; it’s essential to know which area you want to change specifically. Otherwise, you’ll burn out. Are you looking to change because your soul is talking to you? Or are you just trying to please someone else, or fit into society better?

I mention this because another healthy model of ‘I am not enough’ comes through in saying no to things that don’t align with you.

Knowing your core strengths and playing to them and listening to your soul’s purpose will get you to the space of ‘I am enough’ in the area that you connects you to your bliss. That’s where you want to be! Unshakeable in your purpose, drive and bliss.

The point to make here is that we are each on our own, individual, unique paths through life. We look over at the people around us and compare ourselves with their journey.

We do this with an assumption; based on the best aspects that we can see of their lives, and the worst aspects of our character. It’s a fantasy and a fabrication.

“You enter the forest
at the darkest point,
where there is no path.

Where there is a way or path,
it is someone else’s path.

You are not on your own path.

If you follow someone else’s way,
you are not going to realize
your potential.”

~ Joseph Campbell ~

It’s not my problem. It’s yours.

Often, when we approach our problems, we do so through the lens of judgement, criticism, blame, or toxic shame. If someone said something to hurt you, you might want to take it out on them, or someone else that you know will take it.

It’s up to each of us to stop pointing the finger. Notice that when you point your finger at someone, three fingers are always pointing back at you?

These states never lead to empowerment and love; you can’t reach empowerment and love through scarcity. That’s one cultural narrative that seems a little odd: “If you work hard, and save, you’ll reach your dreams.”

Having money is a good thing up to a point. It’s proven not to increase fulfilment; there are plenty of rich folks out there struggling with fractured families and depression because they don’t know what they want, and they blame other people for that.

“Ignorance is bold and knowledge reserved.”

~ Thucydides ~

I can’t do anything.

I can’t do anything about it. It’s just the way it is.

An often-used narrative and it leads to apathy, numbness and despair. One of the best things anyone ever said to me was “We are society”.

It might not seem like much, but it acknowledges that there is both a top-down and bottom-up approach to society. Public opinion shapes policy in government and policy becomes law. It’s that simple.

We live in an age of mass apathy, numbness and despair. Although the recent BLM protests are an excellent awakening from this, the core of the problem is that we’re conditioned to believe an inherently racist and supremacist system.

The best thing that you can do to combat these deeply unfair systems is to start to rediscover your humanity. Connection to your body, your story, your mind. Connection to the earth, the wind, the sky, water and fire.

Reconnecting will give you the knowledge and wisdom that we are living in an imbalanced way with our ecosystem. Until we rebalance, we will not find rest and rejuvenation in our landscapes and communities.

“We have to be willing to let go of that’s just the way it is, even if just for a moment, to consider the possibility that there isn’t a way it is or way it isn’t. There is the way we choose to act and what we choose to make of circumstances.”

~ Lynne Twist ~ The Soul Of Money ~

I can’t change things.

Similar to can’t do anything with a little nuance. I can’t change things hits up against the brick wall of the unfamiliar.

The collective narrative encourages people to think big, go for their dreams, which is good, except it doesn’t provide any conditioning around how it is that you get there.

It doesn’t talk about surrendering and embracing uncertainty, grief, death, shame. It doesn’t speak of forgiveness and faith. It merely hits you over the head consistently with the same message: You can have it all.

We won’t tell you how to have it all, but it’s there. Should you want it enough, should you be willing to slog it out hard enough.

The truth is that being successful doesn’t take hard work; it takes smart work. This narrative is keeping us back.

The other thing is that leaning into hardship and taking aligned action is the way to change. We’re all sitting here wanting to be good people and to be nice.

The reality is that deselecting people, considering who is in your zone of influence, and firmly setting boundaries is the way to success. Maintaining a few solid friendships will get you a long way; trying to people please will not.

If you’re an adult with mental capacity, you do have the agency to change your life. Counterintuitively, you have to make the first move and believe that it can be so.

“The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease for ever to be able to do it.”

J. M. Barrie ~ Peter Pan ~

I’m a bad person.

Toxic shame is rampant in our societies.

Try this one out for size, over the next week notice how many people in your environment caveat what they say with some form of a self-deprecating comment, I bet you it’s high! It certainly is here in the UK.

The common narrative here is not to stand out from the crowd, to be the same as everyone else, not to be crazy or uncertain.

This mindset can be good in small and healthy doses in connection. When you move from a place of scarcity, it’s providing you with more shame to dump on top of the old toxic shame that you exist under the weight of.

Toxic shame means you think you’re a bad person. It’s not always pervasive, it can come through in small areas in your life, yet if you feel this way, it will hinder you from living the life you want to live.

It’s entirely possible to exist in community in a loving and connecting way, honouring everyone’s flaws and strengths.

The nature of shame is that you don’t talk about it. It’s a fear of disconnection; you translate ‘I am a bad person’ to your sense of self because you’re worried that others will think it so and then reject or abandon you.

In thinking it, it becomes harder to connect with others, and you make your prophecy come true to some extent or another.

The first step for you is to know that no-one is evil; there are only evil deeds. You are not a bad person; you might have done something bad. Our old friend neuroplasticity can come in and save the day here. You always can change your body-mind.

“What we don’t need in the midst of struggle is shame for being human.”

Brené Brown ~

Integrating thoughts.

Perhaps we need to envision a new collective narrative, one that empowers us all to stand in love, purpose and connection.

Perhaps we need to slowly rework the old narrative. Hence, it’s more humanising, so that we can move away from the working culture that has permeated our societies since the industrial revolution of the mid-19th century.

That’s a long time ago now, and technology has changed the way the world works and each individual person’s ability to change their life, make choices that will benefit them.

It’s time to change our story.

What would you change?


Created by

Peter Middleton


Peter is a creative coach working to unblock people's authentic creative essence and expression. Using transformational life coaching, meditation and embodiment techniques. He is passionate about mental health, trauma informed practice, spirituality and how to create sustainable cultures that empower in equity.







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