Lewis Mehl-Madrona, M.D., Ph.D.

author, professor, and executive director of the Coyote Institute for Studies of Change and Transformation  

There is no single way to understand a story. When we hear a story we look for the many possible beliefs inherent in that story. We find these beliefs by sorting through the beliefs we already have. We are not as concerned with what we are hearing as we are with finding what we already know that is relevant. Picture it this way: We have a list of beliefs, indexed by type of experience and meaning. When a new story appears, we attempt to find a belief that relates to it. When we do, we find a story attached to that belief and compare the story in memory to the one being processed. Our understanding of the new story is a function of the old story. Once we find a belief and connected story, we need do no further processing; the search for other beliefs is co-opted. We rarely look to understand a story in more than one way. The mind does not easily pursue multiple paths.

from Remapping Your Mind: The Neuroscience of Self-Transformation through Story (Inner Traditions/Bear & Co.)