The Danger of a Single Story: Taking Distorted Thoughts into a Functional Way of Living

2e998fae06e552cff0607a1ad39fe914    Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a feminist and author, went on TED Talks to discuss the importance of perspective and how “impressionable and vulnerable we are in the face of a story, particularly as children”. In light of this, she suggested that we tend to negatively internalize, generalize and view our own walk in life as well as others in the same manner based on what someone else has told us. Throughout her speech, she mentions the dangers the mind can make once we typecast someone in a box (box of lies) based on past behaviors. Consequently, by believing in those lies, it can make it harder for us to see outside of that same box that has been imprinted on us or for others. Chimamanda ends her speech by saying that we do not have to claim that single story someone presumes us to be. The title of her intriguing speech was called The Danger of a Single Story.

     In Psychology, there is also a similar theory called E.M.S (Early Maladaptive Schemas), which in my own words, is described as negative or dysfunctional events that happen in our early childhood that we register, evaluate, filter and internalize in our mind as truths. It is believed that because of this, it makes it easy for patients to recall more of the negative events and/or experiences much more readily than the positive ones. EMS can both be triggered and/or developed when “the environment does not meet the child’s core needs for safety, stability or predictability, love, nurturance and attention, acceptance and praise”. Where am I going with this, you ask?

1 Corinthians 13:11 says, “when I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.

As we get older, we start to learn that the lies of that teacher who once failed you and said you would never amount to anything was a lie. You know this based on where you are in your life; with two degrees hanging on your wall being a living testament to that lie. For that boss who told you, you are not qualified for a certain position but now you manage a team with fifteen plus employees. For that friend who told you, you would never get a significant other because you are selfish and now you are happily married. As we grow older,  we start to understand who’s and whom we are in Christ and those lies  no longer tend to resonate the same when we know there are no truths in it.

However, at times there are some triggers in our lives, others may call it setbacks, that may have us mentally resorting back to our child-like thoughts of “I guess my mom was right” or “Maybe, my boss had a point…”

How do we come up with a treatment plan that will take our distorted thoughts into a more functional way of living? How do we get out of the danger zone of becoming just a single story? How do you get away from being typecast as:  the broke friend always begging for money, the negative nancy of the group, incapable of having a lasting relationship, mr./ms “can’t get right”, and etc. ?

The practice of remembrance. It is a continuum of remembering how God has brought you through your trials, remembering how He created you, and remembering His predestined plan and purpose for your life. Time and time again, we have seen in the bible that there is no limitation for God. Being that we are to be of God’s own image, we have to believe that there is no limitation to what he can do through and for us. Let your faith in Him shine to repair those negative schemas. For Christ has given new roles and even renamed biblical characters in the Bible to show as an illustration that just when you think you are to be typecast as one thing, he shows you that you are destined to be greater than a single story.


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