How Close to Reality Is Your Life Narrative?

by | May 14, 2023

Sometimes we have to lie to ourselves just to get through the day. It’s okay. Everybody does it at one time or another. It’s hard to be objective about ourselves—some of us give ourselves a pass a little too readily, and some of us berate ourselves unnecessarily.  But too much distortion of reality does not serve us well.

 

Essentially, we tell ourselves stories about ourselves—our personal narratives—that not only shape our personalities, they become our personalities. We create a story about who we are and what we’ve achieved. We also tell ourselves about our traits—extrovert or introvert, procrastinator or planner, optimist, or pessimist. These self-reflections become the framework for our life story, but they are our own perceptions, and they are bound to be at least somewhat inaccurate. That’s because it’s hard to see ourselves from an objective point of view. And we’re constantly changing, so our stories change, too.

Marriage Counseling, Relationship Therapy, Couples

Self-Reflection—the Good News and the Bad News

 

It’s good to reflect, but constant self-absorption is a sign of a depressive disorder. The flip side of that is that ruminating about something you’re trying to achieve, if you do it with a positive attitude, can help you focus on your goal. The bad news is, if you ruminate too much about how successful you are, you could begin to feel full of yourself. And that can lead to grandiosity.

 

It’s a balancing act. Moderation in all things.

 

Grandiosity

 

If you only think about moments in which you excelled, you can become pretty insufferable. It’s nice to feel special, but if you truly think you are more important and superior to others, you may be flirting with narcissism. By ruminating often about your successes, and conveniently ignoring your failures, you can come to believe your superiority. You begin to form a narrative of your own greatness.

 

As it happens, most people think they’re right most of the time. When you disagree with others, don’t you think you’re usually right at least more that 50 percent of the time? Most people do, but of course, if everyone who disagrees were right more than half the time, then someone has to be wrong at least half the time. Most of us have an inflated view of how right we are.

 

Healthy Skepticism

 

Overestimating the correctness of your views and beliefs can lead you to make bad decisions. Since each of us is naturally prejudiced about our own perspective, some egocentricity is part of the human condition. So, it pays to have some healthy skepticism as a counterbalance. Question your own interpretation of what you perceive as incontrovertible truth. Try to be as objective, unbiased, and accurate as possible.

 

Of course, don’t go overboard with this. You don’t want to be questioning every thought you have—you will be paralyzed with doubt. Again, it’s a matter of balance and moderation. The key is to recognize the possibility that you could be wrong, and to keep an open mind.

 

Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional. If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch. You can reach her here: https://www.nancyscounselingcorner.com/contact

 

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