Story is very powerful, it can guide our lives and define our worldview.
But most stories aren’t written about the rosy and shiny new future that we aspire to. Most stories are written to explain the past, and to predict the future based on the predicates of our past experience. It’s like a military commander fighting the next war, using the strategies learned from the last war.
Stories Create Paradigms
By explaining the past, our stories can create limiting beliefs about our future. They can lock us into paradigms that don’t serve us or benefit our lives.
But what is a paradigm, beyond its use as a meaningless buzzword?
The concept of a paradigm was articulated most clearly by Thomas Kuhn in ‘The Structure of Scientific Revolutions’, where Kurn analyzed the history of discoveries in science and how the paradigms (world-view models) of scientists could affect the course of their research.
Kuhn concluded that true revolutions only occur when a scientific paradigm is exhausted and broken, and then a new paradigm is created from new models and new ideas:
(A new paradigm is) a reconstruction of the field from new fundamentals, a reconstruction that changes some of the field’s most elementary theoretical generalizations as well as many of its paradigm methods and applications. During the transition period there will be a large but never complete overlap between the problems that can be solved by the old and by the new paradigm. But there will also be a decisive difference in the modes of solution. When the transition is complete, the profession will have changed its view of the field, its methods, and its goals. — Source: Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
These new paradigms solve new problems, which were insoluble with the new model. Just as elevated stories, which are crafted to describe the future instead of our past, can solve new problems in our lives.
Because, let’s face it — our culture’s preferred stories are exhausted and broken. They are not serving us very well.
But more on this in a moment!
How Paradigms Filter Our Reality
Paradigms, and the stories they’re based on. filter our perceptions of reality.
For example, if we believe in gravity as a model for how objects fall and interact with the Earth then we filter out and ignore phenomenon and ideas that don’t comport with this model of reality.
So what’s the benefit of a paradigm?
A paradigm filter helps us to ‘filter out the noise’. This is particularly important in the modern world, when we’re bombarded by an over-abundance information and choices. We have a limited bandwidth for information, we have a limited bandwidth choice, and we have a limited bandwidth for willpower.
If we have a paradigm filter in place that tells us that “network marketing is a pyramid scheme” and “timeshares are a scam”, then we don’t need to spend precious time and energy and willpower evaluating the opportunities that come into our lives. Life is made simpler for us because our paradigm can make decisions for us — and we save our limited resources of decisionmaking for other, more important things.
But paradigms also blind us to the possibilities in our lives. How our potential is truly infinite, limited only by the power of our dreams and our stories.
Because paradigms filter our large portions of our waking lives, they filter our many of the possibilities in our lives. Paradigms can prevent us from seeing these alternate life paths and realities — even when they’re staring us in the face.
Paradigms emerge from story, and they usually emerge from stories which were written to explain the past.
In my life, the past six years has been a series of shifting and adjusting life stories. From broken, to healing, to healed but still creating stories based on my past experiences. Stories based on jumping ahead a level, or two. But always based on the experiences of the past. This is the easiest way to craft a story, to reify a paradigm — to base it on what we already know. Our past.
But major revolutions in life can occur when we break the bond of our old beliefs, and leap into new stories and new paradigms. When we elevate our stories into song.
Stories can also be elevated into poetry, into sonnets, and into song. Each elevation multiples the power of the story, by weaving subtle ideas and subtle energies into the narrative.
I’m crafting a new song. A song of transformation. A song that will help others to transform their own lives, as I have done in my own.
“Sing me a new song: the world is transfigured and all the heavens rejoice.” — Freidrich Nietzsche
I’m excited. This is going to be fun 🙂