Any story is a temporary guide.
It helps us guide attention and organize our life in a certain way. It is a support. A stepping stone to something else.
That is where it gets tricky, because if the story is taken as true, it is more difficult to move on when the time is ripe.
And that is where a story can become an apparent hindrance rather than a support.
Ideologies can be very helpful for a while and in some situations, especially when held lightly. But after a while and in other situations, they can become just the opposite.
What is medicine in some phases of our life, in some areas of life, and in some situations, becomes just the opposite in other phases, areas and situations.
That is obviously true for the grand ideologies of religion and politics, and also spirituality.
I may have studied Buddhism for years, with the best teachers around, and think I have a good model for the awakening and maturing processes. It is a wonderful support for a while. It helps me make sense of my path. It helps guide my practice. It makes me feel I am getting somewhere and am doing the right thing. And as I am getting more familiar with that terrain, it can easily become exactly where I am stuck. It becomes where I stop myself through my own imagination, and through taking that imagination as more solid and real than it is. Life invites me to move on, but I am holding the process back through taking imagined maps as true.
And it is also true for our everyday ideologies.
Stories such as it is wrong to be politically correct may help us to explore the validity in the reversals of political correctness, but it is also another place to get stuck. After a while, after being more familiar with the benefits of non-politically correct views, we are ready to mature on and find more fluidity between both. Life invites us to move on, and holding onto that belief becomes a hindrance. (That example came up after reading some of the integral blogs where some folks seems to be very dedicated to the non-politically correct position!)
Another belief may be I shouldn’t hurt people. Again, it is a beautiful guide for a certain phase of life. It helps me imagine how others perceive what I say and do, and live from more concern and consideration. But at some point, after being quite familiar with that terrain, I am ready to move on. Life again invites me to move on, to find more fluidity around it. To find the freedom to also do the reverse if that seems more sane, kind and wise in the situation.
We all know this from everyday life, so the question is really where do I do this right now? Where does life invite me to move beyond a story I have used as a guide?
And that is where stress and discomfort again becomes a persistent and kind guide.
As long as the story works for us as a guide, there may be less stress around it even if we take it as true.
But as we get more familiar with that terrain and are ready to move on, the stress levels increase. The alarm clock starts to ring more loudly. And it keeps on ringing until we pay attention, notice the belief that is now a hindrance, and find what is more honest for us where we are.