Telling ourselves a new story

The neurologist, Dr. Oliver Sacks, once had a patient with a memory disorder who constantly forgot the identities of the people around him, as well as his own. To cope with this condition, his mind unconsciously invented countless narratives, imagined selves and experiences.

Mental conditions are but amplified manifestations of mechanisms in the brain that are normally found in every person. We all reconstruct our own identities one narrative at a time. Our identity is nothing but the story we tell ourselves, adding bits and pieces as we go through new experiences, and subtracting as we forget. Biologically, we are quite similar to each other. The narratives that make up our identity are what make us unique.

This realization that we are but stories that we tell ourselves maybe unsettling. But it is also liberating. We are not tied to our failings from the past or the scripts people have handed down to us – merely the stories associated with them.

If a particular story does not serve us well, all we need to do is tell ourselves a different story. Fortunately, we happen to be great story tellers.

Inspiration: The Building Blocks of Personhood: Oliver Sacks on Narrative as the Pillar of Identity – Brain Pickings

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