Show over tell – lived stories

By Dave Henning / June 8, 2023

“Our brain and nervous system . . . highly [prioritize] the conceptual idea of show over tell — or, to put it another way, lived stories over statements of fact. . . .  The words we speak to ourselves and others always matter because they communicate some degree of truth or intention.  However, if they are not grounded in something that feels true in our bodies, they won’t stick.”- Aundi Kolber

Aundi Kolber moves on in Chapter 2 of Strong Like Water as she counsels you to keep an eye out for reparative experiences.  So your body can experience them as true.  And you opt to choose show over tell in grounding the words you speak to yourself and others.

Furthermore, Aundi stresses, it’s important to tune your nervous system to distinguish between discomfort and harm.  With discomfort you experience something challenging or hard.  But, Aundi underscores, you remain connected to your window of tolerance.  However, harm, like a physical injury, moves far beyond discomfort.  As a result, harm requires you to tap into only survival energy.

Most significantly, Aundi asserts, discomfort can be a holy thing.  The author explains:

“[Discomfort is] actually an important part of the way we grow.  We need to be able to tolerate some discomfort to engage the dance of being human; sometimes we make mistakes or harm others, and it’s important that even though it’s uncomfortable. we look to repair.  But whereas the fruit of discomfort is ultimately growth, the consequences of harm will create destruction.”

In conclusion, Aundi notes, when we actively choose to care for and accommodate others, that’s a beautiful way to love our neighbors.  But it can be harmful when the body automatically defaults to putting others before ourselves- no matter what the cost.

Hence, we need to learn in our own bodies what it feels like to cross the threshold from discomfort into harm.  Because that empowers us to understand and connect with what we need to honor ourselves and act wisely.

Today’s question: What helps you choose show over tell rather than factual statements?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Bandwidth or capacity”

About the author

Dave Henning

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