On New Year’s Eve, we had some friends over to the house for dinner and celebration. The women migrated to the kitchen while the men sat in the dining room. Both groups engaged in lively conversation throughout the night.
Over the course of the evening many topics were discussed. One husband, who enjoys history quite a bit and is a deep thinker, shared with the men multiple conspiracy theories around well known news events.
It was fascinating to listen to these alternate versions of history. Made plausible by the many references to specific parts of the story shared to confirm the possibility of conspiracy. Not remembering the specific details of each event, as they were presented by the news at the time. made it difficult to debate how real each possibility for conspiracy was.
These stories resembled, in structure and effect, many of the stories I have told myself about situations I was involved in or circumstances I found myself in. The conspiracy stories always started with the conclusion that a conspiracy existed. My personal stories always started with either I was wronged or it wasn’t my fault.
Then the conspiracy story is told, detail by detail, to back up the conclusion. Just like not only my personal stories but the ones I hear all of the time from others.
What becomes very limiting, once you understand this, is that stating the conclusion before reflecting on what happened in your personal story gives you no opportunity to think through what could have been different if you either chose or acted differently.
Jumping to the conclusion first keeps you from evolving or growing as a person. It also keeps you from listening to others because you deeply believe your initial conclusion is right.
Most importantly, starting with the conclusion, keeps you from ever seeing a different ending to your personal story for when you get to write the next one as you continue to live your life.
If you think about it, if you always start off your personal story as being the helpless victim, you will never imagine yourself ever becoming the hero. And this makes me sad.