Acting Out: Challenging the Collective Narrative

Cathy Presland
4 min readJun 13, 2021

Or at least becoming more sensitive to seeing them!

Thank you to coyot on Pixabay for the scary cat image

Seeing the Personal Narrative

I spend some of my time with clients, usually at the beginning of our time together, helping them see the difference between what is out in the world, and the thought-created ‘illusion’ they experience as real.

We’re aiming to develop the facility to take a moment, pause before rushing to make sense of things, and sit with the ambiguity a little longer. I want them to widen the scope of the actions they think they can take, and make considered, hopefully wiser, choices before rushing in.

But Then This!

I was with a client last week, talking about a colleague she had been experiencing as ‘difficult’, and considering how much more constructive and rewarding it would be to set that personal history aside and show up fresh with the person in front of her, in a single meeting or exchange, without bringing the history, the story she was carrying around about them.

Oh I couldn’t do THAT!

She exclaimed.

It would go against the corporate narrative.

We both laughed of course, because the fact that she had already seen it as a narrative meant she had enough perspective and distance to have options.

She went on to tell me that there’s a bit of a myth surrounding this person, that they shows up as ‘difficult’ for everyone, or at least that was her perception, and she felt some resistance to stepping out of the prevailing narrative.

And, of course, it’s always a personal narrative at the end of the day, just that there are often more layers than we first imagine.

What’s Driving the Way You Show Up?

It’s so powerful to see, and to understand what’s driving the way we show up.

We don’t have to change, but the moment we see that we’ve been responding to something that has no real substance to it, it becomes possible for all our habits and patterns of behaviour to dissolve away.

It’s almost as if we can’t not show up differently, because we’ve already changed.

Cathy Presland

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