st ethelburga and gherkin_LGIn this article, Kate Griffiths explores how stories shape the world we live in; how some of them are ones that we consciously weave and others are much less conscious.  To some extent it depends on what you choose to believe.  A belief is just a thought that you have had many times so that you see it as truth.  She reminds you that what you focus your attention on grows. 

Let’s start with the juxtaposition in the image for this post.  You are looking at the Gherkin, a building in the heart of the city of London that for many represents money, power and certainly the old story of which I will share more in a minute.  However you are viewing it through the archway of St Ethelburga’s, a Medieval church that was destroyed in the IRA Bishopgate bombing in 1993 and then rebuilt and opened as a centre of peace and reconciliation.  For me this image represents two worlds colliding….

Let me explain further.  My mother was dismayed when I said that I no longer watched the news.  She felt that I would not be aware of what was happening in our world.  For me it was a conscious choice as most news whether it is what you read in the papers, listen to on the radio or watch on the TV, has a negative spin.  An unrelenting diet of this can lead to fear and ultimately a sense of hopelessness.  A belief that there is nothing that you can do to halt the destruction.

Interestingly, studies by neuroscientists have shown that our brains find it easier to remember negative information. This is all due to the functioning of the amygdala, a primal part of our brain located in the brain stem. The purpose of the amygdala is to be our early warning system for any danger that may be in our vicinity. It creates the fight-or-flight response we feel when we are afraid. This is to ensure our survival. This aspect of human nature is the foundation on which marketers like Bernays based their work.

In other words, this is what Charles Eisenstein and others call the story of separation.  It is based on the belief that we are separate individuals living amongst isolated individuals.  It condones self-interest and suggests that my self-interest is likely to be at the expense of your self-interest.  The narrative suggests that we live in a hostile environment.  The whole focus of life is survival.

When I reflect on that narrative, it leads to a deep sense of sadness and helplessness.  It causes so much pain and it is not a world that I want to be part of.  Doug Breibart described it in this way:

What does it mean when the hope and the promise of the #AmericanDream   stops two stations short of the Boomer generation,  just in time to decimate their savings and security and eliminate an entire job strata leaving nothing in substitution to provide salvation.

What does it mean when the Endangered Species Act is a light to the salvation of species under threat is threatened within a decade; while science reports global species disappearances on a monthly basis that maps to our own global extinction.

What does it mean when the greatest constitutional government, and democratic country in the world experiences its government brought to its knees, and its financial operations threatened with shut down.

Alternatively when I watch the trailer for the forthcoming film of Joanna Macy’s work, I am filled with joy.  Last year I bought a copy of Velcrow Ripper’s film Occupy Love and held a couple of viewings of it for those in my tribe who are keen to be part of the emerging story.  The numbers of people that believe that there is a new way of being are growing all the time and it is an energizing space to occupy.

Some of the key elements of this new narrative are that the whole purpose of our being here is to experience connection.  Real connection with others only comes when we have found a way to connect to ourselves and to source. We are meant to be in relationship with others that is one of the main reasons for our existence.  Everything we do to others we do to ourselves.  Every act however small has significance.  This is because we are plugged into the greater consciousness through the invisible divine energetic web of connection.  Each of us has a unique gift to give the world and the purpose of our life is to express our gifts.  Encompassing all of this is the view that everything is sacred.

Close your eyes and feel into both these stories: the story of separation and the story of connection.  Which one gives you hope?  Which narrative enables you to be whole?

For me without doubt, it is the second one.  There are miracles happening every day.  When you watch George Monbiot’s video about what happened when wolves were reintroduced into the ecosystem of Yellowstone Park, you will see they had a fundamental and positive impact not only on the wildlife populations and vegetation but also the physical geography in terms of what happened to the rivers.

Recently I explored what connection looked like with an amazing group of people in a workshop facilitated by Debbie Warrener.  A common thread in each story was that it came out of something unexpected.  In other words we need to learn how to get out of our own way then as Arundhati Roy writes,

Another world is not only possible, she’s on the way and, on a quiet day, if you listen very carefully you can hear her breathe.

Doug Breibart described it very well when he said

What does it mean when the eyes of the world are allowed to see, the ears of the world are allowed to hear, the voices of the world are allowed to speak; and a million small groups and collectives begin to connect and align and harmonise their efforts and contributions toward serving the needs and interests of a global commons. …..It means there is hope. 

You too can be part of this new story.  The first step is connection.  You can start this journey by embracing uncertainty and living on the edge of the known and creating from the unknown.  If you or your organisation wants to find out more then contact me and I will be happy to show you.  Also I would love to hear your thoughts below.


Kate Griffiths works  with individuals and business owners to create more ease and flow in their lives.  Clients include conscious business owners and leaders who recognise that the old paradigm way of doing things does not work and want support in determining  what the new ways of doing business look like.  She is passionate about creating conversations that lead to change and has developed her own process to do that called connection through conversation.  The next one will be here in Great Offley on 9 May.  She also teaches 8 week mindfulness courses at Harmony in Hitchin; the next two start on Thurs 8 May in the evening and Mon 12 May in the morning.  If you prefer, get in touch with Kate to set up an initial consultation to explore working one to one.

What’s your story? Is it about surviving or thriving?

2 thoughts on “What’s your story? Is it about surviving or thriving?

  • April 2, 2014 at 2:46 pm

    Yay! Great stuff Kate. You’ve really captured the spirit of our day in St Ethelburga’s. Warm wishes Andy

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