I invited my friend Deepak Chopra to discuss the phenomenon of back story at my UCLA course. In addition to being a bestselling author, Deepak is a practitioner of narrative medicine. This approach to treatment is based on scientific evidence that back stories affect and afflict everyone’s life. For better or worse, they’re always there. And because of that, story tellers need to pay close attention to not only their own back stories, but also to their listeners’.
Back stories emerge out of our memories of past experiences, imagination, and desire. “You create stories around these thoughts. Then you live out those stories and you call it life.” back stories actually can define a person’s future, Deepak said, “because we’re conditioned by experience to repeat our stories.”
Back stories emerge out of our memories of past experiences, imagination, and desire.
As a positive example of back story, Deepak told the tale his mother used to tell him when he was a child. “‘There’s this goddess of wisdom. And there’s a goddess of wealth. If you pursue the goddess of wisdom, then the goddess of wealth will become jealous and pursue you.’ I started having relationships with these imaginary gods and goddesses and enacting my own stories with them.”
Those relationships became a core part of his lived back story. Having known Deepak for years, I can attest that he’s never stopped pursuing the goddess of wisdom, and the goddess of wealth has filled his wallet many times over.