The Past Is Just A Story We Tell Ourselves.


Over the weekend, I saw a filmed called Her.

You may have heard of it given all the praise and Oscar buzz it’s been getting, but if not, the basic synopsis for the movie is that a lonely man (Joaquin Phoenix) falls in love with an operating system (Scarlett Johannsen). You never actually see Scarlett Johannsen on screen, but she voices what they call an OS (short for operating system) in the film. The OS’ in the film are designed with a foundation that’s based on the personality of the person who purchases it, but it’s created with AI (artificial intelligence) that can learn, grow, and expand into their own person/consciousness as they interact with people.

Anyhow, I don’t want to give too much away, but the movie was absolutely phenomenal and deserves heaps of awards. Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, and Scarlett Johannsen were all fantastic in it. This film is totally quotable which brings me to the topic of today’s conversation.

“The Past Is Just A Story We Tell Ourselves”- Her (the movie)

Although this film is kind of billed as a romantic drama, it is, in my opinion, a film about being human, being passionate, and about what it means to exist, to be human and to love someone. There are so many brilliant quotes in the film, as I said, but this one really stuck with me because I thought it was so profound. You can relate it to your life, right now, and just thinking about it will blow your mind.

Why, you ask?

Because, if you really think about it, isn’t the past just a story we tell ourselves?

And, if that’s true, then it stands to reason that everything that has ever happened to us is just a story. And, at any time, we can stop telling ourselves whichever of the stories we want. For instance, if I was hurt badly by someone in the past, anyone really, and I held onto that pain and anger and kept telling myself that story of what had happened to me over and over and over again. And if we can stop telling ourselves those stories from the past that have caused us pain, anguish, anger, frustration, and sadness, then wouldn’t we all be a million times happier?

This thought process kind of blew my mind in the movie theater because it is true.

The past is just a culmination of stories that we tell ourselves over and over again and we have the choice of deciding which ones to keep telling and which ones to stop telling.

If someone called you fat or ugly or stupid when you were a kid and, from then on, that was the story you were telling yourself, you can decide at any point in time to STOP telling yourself that story!

What makes this even more profound is that it’s not just a philosophy; this is actually something you could do to improve your life and make yourself happier RIGHT NOW. And I love that all of the power to do it is in our hands instead of a magical force – it’s our choice.

Isn’t that beautiful?

So, with that, I implore you. Whatever harmful stories you’ve been telling yourself – STOP – and start telling yourself new, improved stories that will actually help you instead of hinder you.

Because, at the end of it, it’s your choice whether you choose to keep telling yourself those stories. Or not.

Definitely check out this incredible film if it’s playing in a theater near you – it’s worth seeing at least once, probably more than that.

You can learn more about the film – HERE.

What Stories Do You Tell Yourself?

Are They Harmful or Helpful?

Have You Seen HER the Movie Yet? 

♥ Tianna

Individual Photo Credits: Her the Movie, Spike Jonze, Warner Bros. Ent., & Hoyte Van Hoytema, F.S.E., N.S.E.

Collage by Tianna Sicilia at

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6 thoughts on “The Past Is Just A Story We Tell Ourselves.

  1. February 22, 2014 at 2:03 AM

    I love that quote and the movie so much here is another great quote from Jonathan Gottschall and the book “The Storytelling Animal”

    “The Past like the future does not really exist. They are both fantasies created in our minds. The Future is a probabilistic simulation we run in our minds in order to help shape the world we want to live in.
    The Past unlike The Future has actually happened. The Past, as represented in our mind, is a mental simulation too. Our memories are not precise records of what actually happened. They are reconstructions of what happened. Most of us believe our memory is filled with reliable info we can access at will. Not so. But memory isn’t an outright fiction. It is merely a fictionalization of what took place. Memory is an unreliable self-serving historian. It’s there to help us make decisions that help us along for the bumpy ride that reality is.”

    — Jonathan Gottschall from The Storytelling Animal

  2. Dan
    December 17, 2014 at 11:20 AM

    I am watching “Her” right now, and as soon as I heard that quote, I paused the movie and Googled the quote. When I read your interpretation, I said to myself, “Yes!” I don’t know anything about you or your blog, but I can say that you know what it means to be human, to be alive, to want to grow and be happy. What a brilliant analysis – thank you 🙂

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