Both of these statements are true at one level and not true at another.
It all depends on your perspective; if you have reached a state approximating enlightenment, then you will have largely freed yourself of ego, and with it, the misconceptions and persistent illusions that are an inevitable part of the experience of an embodied consciousness. Your connection to any story will be much weaker or non-existent.
I do not belong to the category of the enlightened, although probably just like you the reader, I have had my share of powerful moments when the ego together with the distortions it creates disappear; when inter-connection and inter-being stop being interesting or intriguing concepts and become powerful direct experiences, filled with wonder, awe, gratitude, a feeling of being both small and immense at the same time. A Christian friend of mine called this a “religious experience”. Whatever label your rational mind wants to put on these experiences, they have the power to bring about deep and important changes in the person who experiences them.
Putting aside these deeper truths, let us return to our default setting which is “mindless”, ie lost in our thoughts − an egocentric fantasy, a story which little more than a dream; a distortion of what reality is of what or who we are. Each of us has within us a story about ourselves; who we are, what happened to us, what we are worth; it is part of our ego. These stories can be damaging or they can be uplifting. They can propel to great achievement or great suffering.
The power of these stories is that we do not see them simply as stories that we have created. Instead, we live these stories as if they were reality. This makes us victims of our stories. The reality is that we made up our story albeit unconsciously. We did it in response to our lives, families and education.
The most surprising aspect of all this is just how attached we become to our stories. Even when it is pointed that “this story is harming you; you can change it”, many people will continue to cling to their stories because, although they are not happy, they feel comfortable with their story. It is familiar and they know what to do, and how to behave.
Changing your story is uncomfortable because it requires you to take responsibility for your feelings and actions; for how you respond to events in your life. This contrasts sharply with the easy and shallow satisfaction of blaming others, of being “right”. It means being prepared to feel uncomfortable, to see discomfort as a part of our path of growth of self-realisation.
If you adopt a mindful attitude you develop your capacity to simply accept what you observe with equanimity. Discomfort becomes entirely bearable, you learn. When the desire “get me out of here” is approached with open curiosity, a sense of kindness to yourself and a sense of humour, then curiosity overpowers your fear, and kindness neutralises your harshness. Aspects for so long unconscious become conscious. In this space we can start to choose to be either the hero or the victim; needless self-inflicted suffering or growth; action instead of excuses. So as uncomfortable as it might feel at times, the rewards are immense.
So, where does your story come from? Is it useful or harmful to you and those around you? Is it time to change?
We all have a desire for self-realisation. An ability to face and accept discomfort is a vital part of this. Resisting this only makes us unhappy. Embrace the discomfort, embrace your life.