By Dr. Vernon Bittner
Have you ever thought about the story telling aspect of life, your life? We all have a story inside of us, that is aching to be told. Maya Angelou said: “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you.”
When all of this is over, and we look back on our experience with the Coronavirus Pandemic, what story will we tell? Will we only recall the unpleasant things like isolation, uncertainty, lack, frustration – how difficult and how horrendous it was? Or will our story also include some of the positive ways in which we responded to the disappointments and difficulties we faced, and even some of things we learned. What will be the focus of our story?
In every experience, we are our own story-teller. How we react to disappointment or success fashions who we are and what we become. One of the tenants of Unity Christian Church is: “Thoughts held in mind, produce after their kind.” We are not only the one telling our story, but we are molding our future story. If we habitually respond to life with thoughts and emotions that are aversive and pessimistic, we will experience more pain, anxiety and suffering. However, if we react to life desiring to be understanding and compassionate we will know more abundance, peace and joy.
We are the architect and the designer of our life. We become what we think and what we say. Yet, a possible problem with telling our story is we need to be aware of which lens we are using to view our experience. Is our lens shaded or bleached or is it the way that it really was? We can alter it by exaggerating it or minimizing it, if we don’t look back at this event with the correct lens. If our recollection of this occasion is modified in any way and we repeat it over and over again, it will become the truth for us even if it is false.
Years ago, when I told my life-story, I would say my mother died when I was seven years old. Conversely, later my aunt corrected me and told me I was nine years old. However, during that time I was going through a great deal of grief because of the void in my life. My view of reality was clouded. The pain was so severe that I had repressed the facts surrounding the event. After further exploration, I realized I was eight. Neither I nor my aunt (because of her grief) recalled the event correctly.
What story will we tell? Surely this COVID19 experience has caused us to do some honest soul searching about the purpose of our life and our life story. This may result in writing a new chapter in our life. We may decide to create a new path or discover we like the one we are on right now. Either way, I am the cocreator of my life-story . . . and my life.
Dr. Vernon Bittner