What’s your story?
Formulate it. Narrate it. Compose your personal narrative.
This is often too difficult, for various reasons. So therapists use methods that more gently approach it, like trauma eggs and vision boards.
I believe we find it difficult because we crave simplicity, and abide mystery discomforted, with unanswered questions, craving validation from persons who will never give it. Maybe because they themselves haven’t composed their own narrative either. What’s interesting is how ready we are to simplify *their* narrative, while, at the same time, avoiding our own.
So, instead of writing our story, we just *pray* for it: For serenity about the things we can’t change. For courage. And for wisdom.
We celebrate examples of courage among ourselves, Though I wonder how much courage uninformed by wisdom is true courage.
We seek serenity by lambasting our transgressors as examples of “things we cannot change.”
“They’ve always been addicts, weak, manipulators, narcissists, cheaters…”
Sometimes we do turn that mirror on ourselves. “We always did what *they* wanted, like we were doormats.” Yet, there is no serenity in accepting that we cannot change our victim status.
In relationship crisis, we face outrageously complex and mysterious failures. Every impulse to simplify ourselves or our adversaries stems from what psychology calls cognitive distortions and biases (more in Part 2). We therefore should be cautious about identifying “things we cannot change.” Without deeply exploring your own distortions and biases, wisdom remains distant.
Authentic wisdom is outrageously difficult to come by. It is never fully achieved, nor is it static. Not authentic wisdom. It is not a holy grail you can possess and keep in your possession. It is as fleeting and ephemeral as all things authentic, like authentic love, compassion, the different mode by which divinity is known – Sophia, the Holy Spirit.
Therefore, your narrative should not be static. And that makes it difficult. So we oversimplify our failure, and share platitudes as substitutes for on-boarded wisdom, because authentically internalized wisdom is too elusive for us amidst our suffering. The gentler approach to the runway of wisdom is less abrupt and sharp in our tender, wounded state.
We seem to often lack enough courage to pursue wisdom wholeheartedly, which conterproducrively keeps serenity at bay. That’s what a victim mentality is. That’s where, why, and how blaming our transgressors keeps us stuck.
Enter: Vision boards.
Vision boards come with two indispensable instructions. Neither is optional. Both are required. It must be something you want for yourself, and it must be possible. Now, recite the serenity prayer in your mind, and think about those two requirements.
You will not accidentally get the courage to change the things you can. You have to want the change, and believe the change is possible. Both. You can’t just want it accidentally, like mana falling from heaven. But you also don’t have to chase it rabidly, like a possessed madman.
I am convinced that if you can internalize these two motives harmoniously – aspiration, and imagined possibility – you are already on a wisdom path.
But in the wake of relationship failure, it’s hard to believe in the possibility of harmony between possibility and desire. They are seen as the ground from which our current suffering was born.
In many senses, vision boards turn out to be trauma eggs also. The things we imagine as possible tend to reflect the wounds we have suffered. But not entirely.
For example, say you’ve always wanted a dog. But an ex-partner forbade it, explicitly or implicitly. Now you can imagine the possibility of having one.
There’s a twofold effect in the story you tell about that board.  You are imagining something that is possible – and remember, you don’t have to chase it doggedly:-)  You are telling your narrative as an imprisoned victim. Notice how that is a gentler approach to what you can’t change, and it lowers the challenging steepnesss of a directly honest personal narrative.
An approach to wisdom – gentle or not – is only an approach. It does not put you on the path of wisdom. You’ll have to do the hard inner work – to look at your failed relationship with eyes that do not divert blame elsewhere. That’s hard.
Because wisdom is ever dynamic, you need a draft to reread periodically as you tread the dissonance of the Serenity Prayer applied to you. Successive editions narrate less about your transgressor and your victimization, and more about your shortcomings and contributions to the failure. You cannot get to the final, happy chapter about wisdom, without first writing an earlier chapter about hypocrisy.
The tango took two. Even if you don’t repeat that dance with a different partner, there is always that other partner you cannot escape. Inside. Your ego and your soul are custom-tailored partners in the ever-dynamic dance of wisdom. Your glee as a witness to the wisdom dance is only as large as the eyes that can first imagine the boundless possibilities of your soul, and see how that divine dancer can embrace its ego partner and sweep it off its illusory terra firma.
(“Terra firma” is my fanciful reference to the “firm ground” on which an ego thinks it stands. Part 2 explains how unconscious you likely are about the illusions of this fantastical firm ground. There is NOTHING firm about the wisdom path. Authentic wisdom is the opposite of the certainty that’s nothing short of passionately misdirected LUST. Authentic wisdom is never situated in any belief system that values the simplicity and fundamentalism comfortable to the ego; it is instead the realm where complexity – aka mystery – is the supreme value. Part 2 expands on several of these steps toward the self honesty which can be sideshows on your wisdom journey that fortify your passion to remain on your path for your own sake, all else be damned.)
Neil D. 2021-12-16