Author: Adarsh NJ
Most of our lives are lead inside this little thing that we call the brain, and rightly so, considering all of our worldly interactions are routed through this funny little thing. We, however, despise this. We are oblivious to the power it has over us and would much rather chase after living our life in the “Real World”, whatever that must mean. The truth is that our actions, reactions, and emotions are extensions of what goes on inside this skull of ours and most importantly, are a direct result of the stories we tell ourselves over and over again.
We go through life creating multiple narratives with regards to how things must be. These narratives are mostly formed through personal experiences, external events, advice from our close ones, and of course, the media. These narratives become more concrete when we find others who share similar opinions and before we know it, we have unconsciously accepted it as the absolute truth and abide by it day in and day out. It isn’t such a bad thing, of course, to have certain narratives. In fact, some of them help us move forward in life and instill a sense of meaning, helping us justify the path we’ve chosen to walk. But like anything else, narratives serve us until they don’t. Holding onto certain narratives after they’ve stopped helping us move forward usually marks the beginning of the end in most cases.
“Self-Doubt” is usually shed negative light on by most and is countered with positive self-affirmations. While this can bring about positive results in some scenarios, if there are things that have been bothering us time and time again, it would be wise to not cast it away as self-doubt. In this case, a more nuanced approach would be to employ the understanding of your own narratives and question its gaping holes, with an attempt to figure out its compatibility with your current life. We can take the example of a student who has been performing extremely well throughout his academic life. However, as he approaches the final years of his study, he feels a sense of emptiness despite his commendable achievements. A common suggestion would be to cast away the self-doubt and look at the bright side of things. Although this isn’t a bad suggestion as such, a better suggestion might be to examine his/her narratives about academic performance and its association with fulfillment, trying to shift the paradigm or the lens through which he/she has always viewed things.
Narratives play a key role in dictating how gracefully we move through life. Some narratives might turn out to be 80% true upon examination, but the remaining 20% which is left unaccounted for might do you more harm than good. It is worth exercising the act of thinking to root out our preconceived notions and enhance our interactions with the material world. The ability to grapple with ideas without falling prey to overthinking is, in my opinion, one of the best abilities to have.
It is only appropriate to end the article with a quote that inspired me to write it in the first place: “It is the mark of an educated mind to able to entertain a thought without accepting it” — Aristotle.