Overly-Positive Personal Narratives

I’ve recently been thinking a lot about why do I do what I do? One particular realization that I’ve had is that my decisions are heavily influenced by my latent need to define a positive narrative about my life.

I already knew that people believe what they believe in order to establish a vision of the world that is consistent with what they experience. If people perceive a significant discrepancy between how they think the world works and how they actually experience it, they feel distressed and confused. This behavior explains in part why most people adopt the same religion and political inclination as those around them. Their believes might be right or wrong but at least it allows them to live in a world that “makes sense” to them.

Now, lately I’ve realized that I also care a lot about defining a positive narrative about my life. By this I mean, that not only do I feel the need to have a coherent vision of the world but I also need to tell myself that everything that I do and everything that happens to me is part of this journey to become the best version of myself. If I fail at something that means that I am not the best version of myself so I might be quick to dismiss it as bad luck or not my fault.

Thus, the problem I have with personal positive narratives is that they might make me less open to new ideas and opportunities to learn from my mistakes. If I care too much about preserving this perfectly curated idea of who I am and what I stand for, then I will be a lot less likely to challenge myself and grow. The real danger is that my current narrative might be good enough so I am not really incentivized to challenge myself, which means that I will stall.

The Takeaway

In this case the key takeaway for me is that I should be comfortable with the idea that I am a “work in progress.” If I can feel comfortable knowing that I will make bad decisions and that I do not have all the answer to why things “happen to me”, then I will actually be a lot happier because I will be able to learn and grow more.