Thursday, May 24, 2007
The Stories We Tell Ourselves
We tell ourselves stories about our own lives to become who we are.
In an article in the Science Times this week, Benedict Carey describes how psychologists see a connection between the way we tell our own life stories, and how we live our lives. People with more life problems describe episodes from their life that are colored with a dark detail—each scene seems to end with a disappointment. People who have fewer problems and are more engaged with the world tend to retell events with a theme of redemption.
But our stories can change with time: “…the tone, the lessons, even the facts in a life story can all shift in the changing light of a person’s mood, its major notes turning minor, its depths appearing shallow.”
Moreover, what perspective we storytellers take in recounting previous experiences—first person or third person—determines how we learn from the experience and what course we take in the future.
“Seeing oneself as acting in a movie or a play is not merely fantasy or indulgence; it is fundamental to how people work out who it is they are, and may become.”
“This Is Your Life (and How You Tell It)”, Benedict Carey, The New York Times, Tuesday, May 22, 2007