Taking refuge in a story to make ourselves feel better

Am I going into a story in order to feel better? To distract myself from an uncomfortable story and associated feelings?

Do I notice any of the telltale symptoms of doing this?

This is an ongoing exploration for me.


When I hold a story as true, I do it to find a sense of safety in it. At some level, it feels safer to hold a story as true than admitting I don’t know for certain.

This is a habitual pattern, and learned from others as we grow up. We do as we see.

These can be any story. They may tell me I am better or worse than others. They may tell me I know how I am or the world is. They may assign blame. They may take the form of ideologies, whether polticial, spiritual, psychological, or anything else.

When I hold a story as true, I identify with the viewpoint of the story and the identity created by it. I take myself as that, and not as what’s left out even if that’s also here.

The safety I seek is the safety from being faced with one of more of my uncomfortable stories and their associated feelings.

Seeking refuge in stories has many consequences. I need to remember, prop up, defend, and elaborate on the stories. They are always at risk of being disproven and shot down by my own mind or others or both. It creates contractions of body and mind. It limits the ways I have for exploring the world in my imagination and life.

There is no real safety in taking refuge in stories. The stories can be disputed. They are literally imaginations. And uncomfortable stories and feelings are still here.


There is another way to find refuge that’s more aligned with truth and reality.

And that is to explore the stories with some sincerity.

To examine the specific stories and find what’s more genuinly true for me. (That I cannot know for certain, and the limited validity in the story and its reversals.)

And to recognize the inherent characteristics of stories. (They are pointers and here to help me to orient in the world. They are different in nature from what they point to. They cannot hold any final, full, or absolute truth. Reality is always more than and different from any story about it.)

And befriend and find peace with the stories and experiences that are here, as they are. (For instance, through inquiry, dialog, heart-centered practices, noticing that stories and feelings happen within and as what I am, and that their nature is the same as my nature.)


Knowing about this is a first step, and its real value is in exploring it in daily life.

I notice the symptoms of holding onto a story. (Defense, rejection of views, reactivity, contractions, obsession with ideologies, any form of compulsion, and so on.)

I identify the story I find refuge in.

I examine it and find what’s more true for me.

I explore how it is to hold it more lightly.

I find the validity in other views and its reversals.

I find in myself what I see in others.

I find in myself the reverse of the identity created by the initial story.

Perhaps most importantly, I find the discomfort in me I used the initial story as a defense against.

I explore the uncomfortable stories and their associated sensations.

Here, I often use some version of the befriend and awaken process.



  • refuge in a story to feel safe
    • questions in daily life
    • essence
      • take refuge in a story to feel safe
      • safe from uncomfortable stories/feelings
      • works to some extent, but not really
        • doesn’t bring any real safety
        • is out of alignment with reality
        • creates its own problems, adds to the problems
    • mechanisms


I’ll go into this in a little more detail.


Is this safer than than admitting I don’t know for certain?

When I explore this, I find that seeking refuge in a story is stressful. I need to remember it, prop it up, defend it, elaborate on it, defend it, refute apparently opposing views, and so on.

It creates a physical and mental contraction. It creates stress.

It’s not safe at all since it’s out of alignment with reality and truth and can be exposed and shot down at any moment, either by my own mind or someone else or both.

There is no safety in ideas. They are mind created. They are, quite literally, fantasies and imaginations.

And seeking refuge in ideas doesn’t protect me against uncomfortable stories and feelings. They are still here. They still surface. They come up whenever they want, no matter how much I try to distract myself from them.



Ideologies to make ourselves feel better

We can use any thought to make ourselves feel better.

We use a mental representation to create a sense of safety for ourselves, and as a distraction from feeling something uncomfortable.

This goes for any belief. Our mind holds onto a thought in order to feel safer, and in order to distract from an uncomfortable story/feeling.

What are some examples of this?


When I take refuge in a story, I do it by pretending it’s true.

I tell myself it’s true in order to find safety from an uncomfortable story and its connected feelings.


When I take refuge in a story, I do it by pretending it’s true.

I tell myself it’s true in order to find safety from an uncomfortable story and its connected feelings.

Pretending a story is true allows my mind to reject or hold off the validity of alternate stories.

It also creates a dynamic of actively supporting, enhancing, and defending the story, and this is a great distraction from having to notice uncomfortable stories-feelings that are here in me.

This becomes a pattern, a habit. We notice an uncomfortable story-feeling, and automatically go into a story to defend ourselves against it.

What are some of the mechanisms?

What are some examples?

How can I explore it?

What are some of the symptoms?


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