Everybody loves a good story. We love to see a protagonist face seemingly unsurmountable challenges, a hopeless underdog facing injustice, managing to beat the odds and come out on top, restoring both balance in the world and faith in humanity.
Although the hero’s journey is a popular theme in books and movies, we don’t have to travel far to see it because this journey takes place several times a day inside our heads. Everyday, we engage in interpersonal relationships that challenge us. And when we’re unhappy with a social interaction, we often walk away feeling slighted or irritated, only to start a familiar monologue in our heads, a story centered on a painful past and focused on preventing a painful future.
Humans are skilled and neurotic thinkers. Everyday, we assess, plan, rehearse, and obsess our own hero’s story starring none other than ourself.
We create monologues, stories we tell ourselves daily, usually after some disappointing interaction with another person. When we feel weak, threatened, disappointed, disrespected, or angry, we create storylines because we view every social interaction as a power struggle. Sometimes our storylines make us feel better, and other times, we create negative monologues which reinforce a weakness within ourselves that we loathe.
Whether we view this monologue as planning and preparation or see it as fantasy and desire, our egos produce storylines that change how we view the world, triggering new emotions that can either comfort or upset us.
For some people, this starts a cycle of replaying the incident in their mind, over and over again, in a way that highlights and exaggerates the slight against us, usually ending in ever increasing levels of amazingness on our part. We imagine how we would act differently given the same situation, how we would seize control of the interaction, relishing thoughts of how the person who upset us would feel…