Monday, February 4, 2013

The Mythology of You

We live through events.
We replay those events in our minds.
We talk about our experience of those events.
We remember the events we share with others.

Sounds like a pretty clear cycle and yet, it is this cycle that leads us to create our own Mythology, to shape our personal story.  We all experience 'things' throughout our lives.  Large and small, these experiences help to shape and define us.  But... is it really the 'actual' event shaping us or our interpretation of that event?

We replay events over and over in our minds. The more important they were to us in some way, the more frequent the replaying.  Much like a favourite movie that we pull off the shelf to watch, though we've already seen it a dozen times or more.  With every replay and retelling of our stories though, we reshape the events, morphing our memories into our 'version', the one that fits best for us.  In doing so, we have created our own mythology, our own story of us.

I know that it feels 'real', that it feels as though we are merely telling it 'like it was', but if we were able to put a film-version of the events as they occurred side by side with a film version of our story of it, there would be distinct and clear differences between the reality and our reality.  This is true for everyone.  It's one of the reasons why witnesses to events are so unreliable and why multiple witnesses are often needed to gain a clear picture of what truly occurred.  The actual story needs to get pieced together.

What is important for each of us is not to try to avoid all embellishment, to strip our memories down to the bare bones of 'reality' or 'truth' but, rather, to come to understand the reshaping.  The way in which we morph our memories tells a great deal about us, our needs and what is important to us.

Understanding our mythology, and that of others, is more important than uncovering the 'truth' of the event.  It is enough that it has become our (or their) truth.  Our mythology helps to shape and define our future choices.  It's not important whether it's accurate, only that it's our story, whether we are highlighted as the victim or the hero, the antagonist or protagonist, the come-from-behind Queen, the Lover, the Leader, the Warrior or Peacemaker.  Our Mythology has served to shape the person we are and will continue to mould the person we will become.  We are now as we once imagined ourselves to be.

Don't like the ending that is likely to play out for you?  Start rewriting your story.  As the author of your Mythology, you have control over the telling of your story.  If yours isn't heading toward the ending you desire, get out your metaphorical eraser and get started on the rewrite.
Despite our shared conception that we are rational actors making intelligent decisions based on an accurate view of the world and ourselves, precisely the opposite is true.       Seth Godin

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