Stories about how we should live our lives can be seductive, they provide guidelines for achieving a supposedly happy life by appealing to the parts of us that want security and safety, usually through social acceptance. But they can also be harmful-promoting the development of a false self amongst those who uncritically adhere to these narratives, and social dissonance and distress amongst those who live lives that challenge social convention. Paul Dolan, social and behavioral psychologist at the London School of Economics, explores this in The money, job, marriage myth.
Power, culture, status, race, gender, hierarchies, identity, politics- we all shape and are shaped by the world around us. We have many theories for analyzing and talking about this, many of which perpetuate a sense of alienation. Instead, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie uses story, which is universal. Listen to her below.
"Think of people as people, not as abstractions who have to conform to bloodless logic, but as people- fragile, imperfect, with prides that can be wounded and hearts that can be touched."