The Traps of Our Narratives
We are scriptwriters of our own storyThe reality is not a fiction we are the creators of the fiction
We need to explain the world around us as to be able to withstand the emotional impact of our living conditions. Therefore, we live inside our explanation of reality and we decide based on this personal narrative of facts. Sometimes, our choices intend to force and sustain our own version of facts, instead of resolving them.
We create the circumstances we face from specific references that define what emotions, what perceptions, what interpretations and what decisions involve the facts.
We develop the circumstances we face through historical references that we organize in response networks. The color of our emotions affects the way we perceive the facts, the meaning of what happens and the way we decide in those situations. Depending on your emotional states, your landscape can be colorful or monochromatic, and these emotional references can activate positive thoughts or become prisoners of a cascade of harmful ideas.
The Neurobiology of Threatening Stories
From a neurobiological point of view, some interesting studies show the function of the prefrontal cortex (the part of the brain that is behind the front) in the creation of the stories within which we live. The team of the neuroscientist Kevin Ochsner from Columbia University developed research where they scanned the brains of people while observing photographs of faces expressing a broad range of emotions. They demonstrated the role of the cortex in the emotional regulation of the emotional centres that are automatically activated in the face of new situations. According to another study of psychologists William Cunningham from the University of Toronto and Alexander Todorov from Princeton University (2015), the most optimistic people do not ignore the threats. It is possible that these people are more sensitive to recognize the good things (positive features) in each situation.
Psychologists argue that people have a bias of evolutionary negativity; a tendency to focus on the threats that the brain has as a biological survival alarm. What the researchers found is that the negative emotions were activated automatically in the participants. Activation of positive emotions occurred when researchers intentionally asked participants to focus on positive aspects.
Living Inside Our Inner Landscape
The inner landscape is a collection of references from the personal history that define the space in which we live. We do not store descriptions of the real facts; we compile references that we use to face similar experiences. In this way, our inner landscape treasures a repertoire of responses that we use to cope with different situations. It guides us daily and establishes the limits of what is known and unknown in our lives. Automatically, dealing with unknown conditions, we look to our internal references to make sense of the external facts.
We live inside our emotional territories expressed through narratives that give meaning to the facts we face. Emotions color the world we design, and the words we display are emotionally tied to the body through this chemistry. We carry the territory in our body. Therefore, changing narratives is not merely a replacement of words; it is an emotional process.
Unveiling the Hidden Paths of Our History
Our map collects significant references from our history to use eventually in other situations. We create the emotional states that we enjoy or suffer through historical response modes. When these networks remain for a long time without revision in our landscape, we merely repeat these stereotypes. We forget they exist; we automatically act the sequence of responses. The hidden paths of our history are sequences of unconscious responses from the inner map. We cannot control the emotional activation which triggers the sequence. However, we can reorganize those response patterns by unlocking their internal references.
We can transform these stereotyped structures through the identification, redefinition and replacement of the references that shape a specific response.
Altering the connection of the sequence would allow us to transform the situations we face and the way to approach them.
You can focus on emotions to alter your mood. Think: Where do these emotions appear? What words activate them? Why do they constantly appear in the same way? What colors do these have? How do emotions manifest in your body?
You can review your thoughts to analyze your narratives. Identify: What arguments cover the situation? Is it possible to contrast them with other ideas? Are there different possible perspectives to explain this situation? What emotions involve your stories?
You can address your perceptions to redefine the description of the scenes. Analyze: Everything you recognize is everything that exists? What emotions influence the description of the situation? Is it possible to consider other perspectives? How to expand the vision of the facts?
You can concentrate on the decision modes to expand your choices. Explore: What options do you have to address this situation? Are you aware of the consequences of these options? Is it possible to consider other alternatives? What emotions influence the creation of other options?
We live inside our personal landscape expressed through a set of words that interpret the emotional connection with the facts. Many times, we try to manipulate or control the events of the external world to calm the turmoil of our inner world. In this way, we try to manipulate in the external world the things we cannot deal with in the inside world.
This article was originally published by Marcelo Manucci on medium.
Psychologist, Ph.D. in Communication and Master in Neuroscience. Author and postgraduate professor. Emotion researcher www.marcelomanucci.com