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The Story of Your Relationships

Create a new story that gives meaning to your social relationships.

 Noorulabdeen Ahmad/unsplash
Source: Noorulabdeen Ahmad/unsplash

This is Part Two of a two-part series.

We have risen to the top of the food chain thanks to our highly evolved social cognition, and our ability to read others and to develop social groups larger and more elaborate than any other animal’s. Our social forte, however, has also become our social albatross: We overthink past the point at which ideation becomes rumination—all about our social relationships: The story.

This has been proven by research: When we set down a task or take a break and “relax,” our minds think about one thing more than any other: our social relationships; our story. In other words, our default cognitive mode, or what neurologists call our “default network,” is social.

To Truly See Another

How can you release yourself from the hold your story has over you? When you transcend the drama of your story, you will also begin to develop a love for humanity. Since no specific characters in your story have to influence you at the level to which you’ve become accustomed, you begin to also see other characters to whom you had previously paid little or no attention: The person who cleans your home or serves you a meal; the gas station attendant; the person you pass in the park whom you do not make eye contact with, causing her or him to feel wie Luft behandeln, which in German means “to be looked at as though air” and, as a clever recent study has found, to afterward feel more disconnected from others; the homeless person whom you walked by before because he was not “yours”—you always said “my brother” to your brother, but never “my homeless person” to the homeless person—all of these human beings suddenly seem more important to you in the broader purview you now have of your life.

If no one belongs to you, then perhaps everyone—including you—belongs to something greater than you. Something more magnificent than anything you have ever felt connected with. Something that makes you feel distinctly human and gives you the profound, ineffable feeling that you are reaching your potential.

Nong V / unsplash
Source: Nong V / unsplash

Three Story Options

I invite you to make a life-transforming decision. There are three story options: First, to determine whether you will exist in the story you inherited. Second, to live in the story you create. Third, to transcend and live as free of these stories as possible. 

The third option can enable you to live in a new reality in which your connection with other human beings in the present becomes more significant than the story you have elaborately narrated to yourself for a lifetime about “the ones that got away”—the previous social relationships that passed through the four natural processes of human social interaction: birth, growth, decay and death.

(The few compassionate, meaningful, sustainable relationships in your life—what I call “CMSRs—that have weathered the years and are still growing are your “social gold.” Truth be told, they keep you alive. Appreciate them rather than ruminating about those relationships that are no longer. Renew them if it’s what you desire and is possible—usually it isn’t—otherwise let them go and make room for the new.)

It is possible that it is first necessary to choose the second option—to create a new story—before you can arrive to the third option, in which you transcend the new story and become more interconnected with humanity.

The new story is like a stick that you tie to a small tree that enables you to process the past and greet the future with an open heart. Once you truly embrace this new collective space, you can throw away the stick and allow the tree—the third option in which you live beyond the encroaching tentacles of your stories—to grow.

Moving On

Once you truly enter this new approach to loving and feeling compassion for all others—each struggling to work through, and possibly transcend, their own story—you will realize that the major conflict in your life has never been, as you always believed, between good and bad. It has always been between the truth and the lies you have told yourself for a lifetime.

From one creator to another, I wish you well on your journey.

More from Anthony Silard Ph.D.
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