I’ve been talking to people about their relationships for a long time now. And as soon as someone starts to open up and trust me, they always ask the same question.
“Am I broken?”
“Is there something wrong with me? Am I unloveable?”
And now I’ve started to answer with the same response.
I’ve been working with people as a Therapist, Coach, Mediator and Trainer since 1993. When you talk to that many people and you see the same patterns over and over again, you start to recognise that this isn’t an individual problem.
This is a systemic problem. Yet our cultural framework tells us that when marriages fail, it’s us that have failed. I’m going to go into more detail into why and how that happens another time.
But for now, just look at the divorce statistics. Half of marriages end in divorce.
Now when we look at the average cost of a wedding here in the UK is £32,000. No-one spends that kind of money thinking it’s going to fail do they?
We want our marriages to last. That’s why most of us feel bad when they end.
Any system where half of the people ‘fail’ can’t be an individual error. This has to be a problem with the system.
What do I mean by narrative?
We have five senses as science records it. What we see, hear, taste, smell and touch. Everything we know for sure comes through those senses.
In every moment we are being bombarded by 11 million separate pieces of data. The temperature of the room, the smells around us, what we can see and so on. That would blow our minds and so Psychologists estimate that we narrow that down to 50 pieces of information.
Which we choose depends on what is most important to us at that moment. If sirens or a fire alarm goes off, we’re going to focus on that because it signifies immediate danger. If we’ve been looking for a certain car, we’re going to start noticing that car everywhere we go.
So the world around us has everything that we need to have every experience possible, but we can only experience whatever seems to be most relevant to us.
In other words we don’t believe what we see, but literally see what we believe.
There are lots of people that believe the Law of Attraction is some mysterious process. It is just a recognition of this fact. When you change your beliefs, you change your experience.
Because experience is the interaction between sensory data and narrative.
This is why witness evidence is so unreliable in courts, because you could take ten people who see the same thing, but they’ll experience and describe it differently.
As humans we operate on narratives, because the facts only make sense within a story. So everything we do and everything we experience, operates within a story that we are narrating.
So much so, that we don’t realise we are narrating it. We think it is what is happening to us. Yet actually we are a participant in creating it.
We couldn’t just operate on facts. The people who do, people who are high on the autistic scale are seen as having a disorder. We need a story in order to organise the data into an experience.
So the takeaway is that if you want to change your experience… you have to change your narrative.
First, it makes sense to become aware of your current narrative. Every change starts with awareness. After that we can change the story and so we change the experience.
Some common narratives that people have about relationships are;
- There’s no good men out there.
- All women are just after money and attention.
- Everyone on dating sites is just after sex.
- People are too fickle today and give up too easy. No one is willing to work at a relationship.
So now it’s your turn. What are your relationship narratives?
What explanations, beliefs have you been telling yourself about relationships that have been partly responsible for the relationship experiences you have had?