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Observing & Learning from Stories

Experience is not what happens to a man; It is what a man does with what happens to him.
Aldous Huxley

Our brains are influenced by bias. We know how hard it is to see new things accurately because of our automatic “blinders.” But, as it turns out, our brains have a compensating mechanism: our brains are shaped to learn from stories. Stories are universal. They capture our attention and teach us. When you begin the process of building your Mindful Compass, you will use your own story to show as positively as possible, how you understand relationships, even during your childhood. Such personal stories, thoughtfully written, can influence your mental health. In addition, stories help us reflect on how social systems work and may give us ideas on how we can alter our participation in them. Reflection deepens our knowledge base.

Listening to stories makes it possible to think for self. You are turning things over in your own mind. You are not doing it for anyone else. If you do it well you derive patterns from stories that help you to see and to be more aware of relationship traps and how principles are useful during difficult times. This is completely different from someone telling you that “these are the eight steps to becoming a great leader,” which you can memorize and spout back for Monday’s test.

Reflection, in the moment, allows us to manage our feelings. Let’s say you are mad because someone taunted you, but instead of feeling and then acting you reflect and consider your past. It is easier to gain control when you see this moment is built onto many other memories. Once you recall how your sister taunted you, and that the person taunting you now is not your sister, managing your feelings becomes easier. You have taken the time to learn from your life story. This makes it possible for you to identify your sensitivities, strengths and values. History is a guide to seeing when we fall into traps or are on automatic pilot. Being mindful allows us to see the system around us, almost in slow motion. This gives us time to ….. read more

Filed under Bowen family systems theory

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