Storytelling is an art, so we believe. Only screen or novel writers possess the skill. Perhaps advertisers and marketing experts. But never do we consider ourselves to be storytellers.
But what happens when we make excuses, give our opinion, defend our belief, or craft a plan for action? Without any training, we tell a story for each of these. Stories we create to make ourselves look or feel good.
The most dangerous stories are the ones where we declare “this will happen” when making a decision. With hubris, we proudly state the future as if it were certain. When each us would readily admit that we cannot predict the future. Our certain story leads us to only one possible choice — the one we consider “the right one”.
We repeat “this will happen” over and over, in many different situations and with many different endings, We never look to see how many times the future we describe came true. Sadly, we would find that what we thought was certain happened far fewer times than we shared.
Not being able to accurately predict an accident, a divorce, a tornado, or the price of a stock a week from now, never causes us to pause before declaring “this will happen”. Making it one of the most dangerous things we do to ourselves without ever thinking about it when we need to make a choice or decision. The stories attached to opinions, excuses and beliefs are stories that place us in less immediate danger because no action is attached to them.
One would argue that it is thoughtful to consider what will happen. I agree. But only when phrased as “what might happen” or “what could happen”. Understanding that there is a chance that something could or may not happen is different than declaring “this will happen”.
More times than I can count, I have convinced myself that “this will happen” leading me to make a choice that was wrong because what I thought would happen never did occur. The danger comes when we assert, as if it were 100% probable that “this will happen” and then use it to make a choice or decision blindly believing that what will happen can be the only outcome.
Far better to look at alternative endings and then see how your choices fit into those scenarios. Not leading to indecision but rather to slow down your impulsive actions in order for you to make more disciplined & thoughtful choices. Remembering that every possible outcome has a chance of occurring. No matter how small the probability.
Finding alternative endings is the difficult work. Always looking for the most probable rather than the most certain outcome before choosing a course of action.
You still won’t always be right. But you may find that your mistakes are smaller and easier to overcome as we begin our next day.