Have you ever compared your version of events with a good friend? A false narrative is a mental framework you use in order to interpret events that upon deeper investigation turn out to be untrue or skewed.
The father of cognitive psychology, Ulric Neisser, wrote in the compendium Self-narratives: True and False, “Human beings exist through time, just as everything else does: One thing happens after another. But unlike anything else, people remember what happened to them – some of it, anyway. This is a remarkable achievement. The remarkable thing is not just that past events influence the present (which happens in all biological systems) but that they are explicitly reconstructed by the person who experienced them. By definition, such reconstructions are examples of episodic memory. If the remembered event seems to have played a significant part in the life of the rememberer, it becomes an example of autobiographical memory and may form part of a life narrative. Life narratives are significant because they are one way of defining the self.”
A simple example of this idea is – I had a friend in high school who was so incredibly insecure and depressed that he could not see how objectively handsome he was at the time. Later in life he pulls me to the side in social situations – “was I really a cute guy? Are you sure?” He just can’t see it, and does not remember his high school years that way. I am sure that his lack of understanding of how he was perceived led to a lot of confusion and unhappiness.
Anxiety can force us to not listen to our intuition, because we are scared. And with every step we take away from our truth it changes us in to a slightly different person who is increasingly unaligned with a more honest, multifaceted picture. What have you been told you are, to the preclusion of something better, and perhaps more holistic and true?
Writing Prompt: “In my family I was the …one.” Or, “In my group of friends I am know for being ….”