Writing to Awaken
What does it mean to say “I am not my story?” Students ask me this all the time. “Are you saying that what happened to me didn’t happen?” Of course not. “Are you calling me a liar, like I’m making these things up?” Not at all. What I’m acknowledging—along with a vast majority of psychologists, physicists, and spiritual teachers—is that what we believe to be real is not reality. The mind creates stories out of things that happen and composes a character they happen to. We then take these false stories for fact and live as if they are the actual truth.
We do this because we are Homo Narrans, the storytelling species, the only animal in all of existence that creates a conceptualized self. We invent ourselves at every moment—connecting the dots, developing plot lines, revising scenes, replaying old dramas—by composing a solid narrative with this fictional self at the center. We fully believe that our story is real, which is why when I tell students that every life is a work of fiction, they quite often feel existential confusion. Luckily, this confusion doesn’t last long.
Seeing that the story isn’t ourselves is a quantum leap in self-realization and the starting point of a whole new life. Engaging with that conscious life is what this book is about. Writing to Awaken is a journey of self-awareness deepened by the exploration of the stories you tell yourself and the masks you wear in the world. The transformational power of this writing practice continues to amaze me after all these years. The radical act of telling the truth awakens us automatically. When we write down our story, we become the witness, and this objective distance brings an aha! as the character we believed to be solid reveals itself as a narrative construct. As we move together through this journey, you’ll come to understand this better. For now, just remember a simple message that will make the way clearer as you progress.
“When you tell the truth, your story changes.
When your story changes, your life is transformed.”