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Life is the stories you are telling yourself

Your life, as you experience it, is how you describe your past and envision your future. About the future… well, all stories are possible, it just depends on your expectations, your imagination, your fears and worries, your ability to dream, your optimism or pessimism.

The past seems to be a given, but it really isn’t. Sure, there happened all kinds of “real” things in the past. Still, already when they happened everyone experienced them differently and gave them a different meaning, according to their point of view, needs and beliefs, etc. – all these filters that each of us has. And then memory is a tricky business, too, picking out of events those elements which seem the most important, most relevant to support a belief or help in fulfilling a need or simply so dramatically moving that all else disappears besides this one element.

Thus, in fact we are writing our own story and we just believe in it. Some twist reality badly, to make the story fit some inner need, truth or belief. Others don’t twist much, but still, by the choice of remembered elements and by ignoring some other elements, or by the disproportionate weight we give something because of earlier experiences, expectations etc., we all distort the story of our lives as it would have been told by an indifferent robot. And in fact, the robot would not be necessarily more right than we are. In fact, you can’t tell the whole story of a life in a way that anybody can follow it, because it would take a whole lifetime to just listen to it, if all minutes are told. It would be boring, too. We summarize, and a robot would do the same. Our leading line for the plot has much to do with our convictions about life in general and about our own miserable, heroic, interesting or dull, etc. parts of life. It would also be determined by our talent of telling a story. A good story-teller knows that it’s important to have some drama, ups and downs, expectations which are built in the listener and then sometimes get disappointed, causing pain, and at other times, hopefully also towards the end, get fulfilled and give hope and a happy, relieved feeling.

What I was actually aiming at was the fact that we can make ourselves happier by changing the way we tell ourselves about our lives. And actually all ways of telling are OK and may have some truth in them. Perhaps I can tell about my life in a way that will make you cry, but I can also tell about it in a way that will make you think: oh, she had such an interesting life, she experienced so much, learned so much, has so much… and both stories will be true, based on the same facts of life, with just more stress on this or that. Only my attitude will be different, the meaning I give to events will make all the difference in the world.

I did that throughout my life, telling about how miserable and worthless my life has been (while depressed and negative) and telling about how exciting, meaningful and interesting it has been (while hopeful and feeling good about myself). The only question is if I can do it by choice, just decide to tell a happy story and believe in it, even when I am down… Well, I actually managed that too, many times, but not so forcefully. I started with all the bad attitude and then, at some point got fed up with this tone and started saying to myself: yes, but… and thinking about the positive elements or ways of seeing these events or characteristics.

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Life is the stories you are telling yourself by 


  • eon .
    eon .about 5 years ago

    Very clearly defined " – ))

  • Thanks! I appreciate the fav, too:-)

    – Gili Orr

  • CanDuCreations
    CanDuCreationsabout 5 years ago

    I think I understand very much what you are telling us Gili. Coming out a situation that during my youth my parents told me that I was clumsy and not capable to do anything important and getting this message also during my marriage of almost 25 years, I believed that it was IMPOSSIBLE that I could be important in other people’s life. I developped a heavy panic disorder, but succeeded with my studies and job. So during the years I succeeded economically but I had a hard time with friends and relationships. The real thoughts and feelings about myself that I was “second hands”. Other people came always first I was always the second choice. So what you tell yourself effects your feelings and the choices in your life. I needed therapy to understand this. How do I FEEL and think these days:
    I am happy now!!!
    I started to understand that telling yourself bad stories effects your life and feelings.
    I am really very, very happy that I understand a lot more about how life can be for other people. Why are they unhappy and how can I help them. I communicate these days in a very different way with my friend and all the people round me and they respond also in a different, positive way.
    I started to ask myself often the important question what is really IMPORTANT in life and I got also important answers. Art, gardening, talking with friends, being able to comfort them, loving my cats, KNOWING that I can create my own paradise were the very important answers I got.
    I believe that LIFE is LEARNING. It never stops and that is also a big challange. In stead of telling myself when things go wrong that everything is a big mess I ask myself “What can I learn from this?”. Yesterday a very good friend visited me. She felt also depressed and we had a long conversation about this. When she left we had both the feeling that we had shared important thoughts and wonderful moments. Is that not really great??

  • Thanks, Thea! I am sooo glad you have shared all that with me, with us!! It sounds like you have come a long way. I can identify with a lot of what you are telling. And yes, isn’t it great that sharing pain, real listening and thinking together can give you good moments, the happiness of understanding a bit more, the happiness of being understood a bit more, the happiness of togetherness, getting a bit closer to others… and to our own selves? Many people here, on RB, found in art the way of turning pain into an impressive work of art, which captivates others and gives themselves some satisfaction and a feeling that at least something good came out of it… or some other positive feelings. People can and do find positive angles in just anything, with the right attitude. Glad you came to visit here, my friend!!

    – Gili Orr

  • Racheli
    Racheliabout 5 years ago

    וואללה, גילי יקירתי, את גם יפה וגם אופה, כל הכבוד

  • תודה! אני גם אמנית וגם חושבת, את מתכוונת;-) אני שמחה שזה דיבר אלייך, רחלי

    – Gili Orr

  • CanDuCreations
    CanDuCreationsabout 5 years ago

    And I am very happy with your respond Gili. I learn every day a bit more how things are connected. Why people act the way they do. It is like finally finding the answers on a big secret and look at a very beautiful pearl. I discovered that big expensive things like a beautiful new car or a really big house are NOT important when love, appreciation, respect is not there, but details, tiny things like the beautiful face of a pansy or all the details in a tine flower. Every time I am amazed and in my situation I also accepted God in my life. Of course I understand that this is for every human being different, but this insight changed my life totally.

  • RosaCobos
    RosaCobosabout 5 years ago

    Hi Dear Gilli.
    mmmm….what you have told here is utmost attractive for me.
    Yes.I agree with you. I would say that not finding anything to add…except as you feel..falling into the temptation of “tellings some story about me life”.
    I love biographies…and I discern about them. I can tell if the story is poetical, or egocentric, or whatever…but I love to be enchanted, falling in love with the author and do not pretend to beleive that what is telling me is the “real facts” but the own interpretation. And for that reason, I cling to the famous (at least for me…) taoist adagio…“without moving from my home I know the entire world”…or something like “from my window I can see the whole world”.That is..that the window is the soul, not the limited frame of one room where air can tresspass. And that reason are the fruitful personages inhabiting this “home” and that they interrelate and live among themselves and alone. I know what you mean. And I have enjoyed the way you have expressed. With firmness, kidness and a background of unquestionable self experience.
    I send you a hug and thank you for this piece of heart and sensible …“common sense”

  • Thanks for your visit and for your listening, my friend – and for your active, interesting input, as always! xx

    – Gili Orr

  • Paul  Carlyle
    Paul Carlyleabout 5 years ago

    All true – I turned 40 this year, and am enjoying a more relaxed -and yet at the same time, more intense – interior and exterior view of myself. Like any subject I’ve taken the time to study, i’m finding the more i discover about ‘who i am’, the more i realise i have yet to (and may not get the time to) grasp. I think the greatest human disease is that we take ourselves far more seriously than anything else on this planet, and seem to be unable to divest ourselves of the delusion that we are somehow separate from it all, and that our experience of life is more meaningful or important than that of any other creature. I no longer panic when i don’t feel “happy” – i’m grateful and humbled to have had the chance to feel anything at all.

  • Sorry it took so long… I like your response and can relate to a lot of what you are saying. Aging has its unpleasant sides, but has advantages too, which can perhaps be summed up in the word “maturing” or “maturity”. Better perspective, more balance, more realistic expectations…

    – Gili Orr

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