“One of the most prominent characteristics of our left brain is its ability to weave stories. … It functions by taking whatever details it has to work with, and then weaves them together in the form of a story. Most impressively, our left brain is brilliant in its ability to make stuff up, and fill in the blanks when there are gaps in its factual data.” (Jill Bolte Taylor, My Stroke of Insight, 143)
Our logical analytical left brain takes facts A, B and C and connects them into a story by filling in the blanks in a way that seems logical based on what we believe. The more emotional charge there is around a subject because of our belief systems and past experiences, the more convincing the story appears.
For example, someone who has rejection issues will have a tendency to interpret other people’s actions as rejection. That is in perfect line with their learned belief system of “The people I love always reject and abandon me”. A belief like that can originate from childhood when the little girl was left by her father. Each time a situation even looks remotely like a rejection, the little girl part inside pops up in fear, and the left brain weaves exactly that old story of rejection.
“The unexamined life is not worth living.”
From a metaphysical standpoint, it indeed is not. If we don’t examine our stories for the truth and learn to choose consciously which stories to run and which to let go of, there is not much personal or spiritual growth for us in this life.
But how do we examine our life – or in other words our stories – for the truth?
Byron Katie gives us four simple questions to ask ourselves:
- Is it true?
- Can I absolutely know that it’s true?
- How do I react when I believe the thought?
- Who would I be without the thought?
She also suggests trying turnarounds to see if a turnaround is as true as the original story.
The woman in our example notices that her boyfriend is flirting with someone. She deducts that he is rejecting her with this action and projects into the future that he is going to leave and abandon her like her dad.
- Is it true?
- Can she absolutely know this is true?
Neither is it necessarily true that he is even flirting at all, nor is it true that his behaviour is a rejection of her. Maybe he is just being friendly, or enjoying the attention of somebody else. And it certainly is not true to assume he is rejecting her, or even remotely thinking about leaving her.
- How does she react?
She feels like rejecting him in turn. Maybe it occurs to her to punish him by withholding sex or being unloving in another way. She might provoke a fight. As she projects her fear of abandonment into the future, she might even be thinking about breaking up with him before he can leave her like her dad did.
- Who would she be without the poisonous thought?
She would be relaxed, could join in the light banter, or have a good time herself. She would signal to her partner through this that she is confident and trusts him. Feeling that trust he would be reminded how lucky he is to have such an amazing girlfriend. In that moment in time, nothing would be further from his mind than leaving this beautiful and self-assured girlfriend.
If the woman in our example continues to examine her story, she would have to try a turnaround as well, by asking herself if she has ever done the same. If someone triggers us with their behaviour, it is because the person is mirroring something for us.
Is it as true to say…
… I flirt and exclude, or reject my partner?
Being really honest with herself, she would probably find an occasion where she has acted in a way that could be interpreted as a rejection. Has she for example really committed 100% to her partner? When he suggested moving in together, did she not reject that for now?
… I reject or abandon myself in any way? Or I am not always true to myself and my needs?
If she is absolutely honest with herself, she might remember an incident when she let herself down, abandoning herself or her inner child in some way.
Examining her stories for the truth, allows her to take facts A (he is making eye contact with a beautiful woman), B (he is talking and laughing with her), C (the woman is single and looking for a partner) and weave a completely different story out of exactly the same facts.
She might now look at him and think. “I am so fortunate to have such a handsome boyfriend who other women are attracted to as well. I am proud of how relaxed he is in this social situation. I trust in our love and connection. I should let him know how much I love him later, maybe even suggest to move in together soon.”
What are your stories that your left brain is running?
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