That's not My Story!
As a Narrative Therapist, I believe that we have stories of our ourselves, our lives, and our world. We repeat these stories to ourselves and incorporate them into our identities. They become a part of us so that we see them as truth and they color how we see the world. Some of these stories are obvious to us (“It’s important to not waste water.”) and others are outside of our awareness (“I’m a bad person.”)
Our stories come from life experiences as well as training or examples we absorb from our families, our culture, the media, etc. Rarely do we examine these stores and ask ourselves if they’re helpful to us. And even if we do decide that they’re not helpful, it can sometimes be scary to test or challenge the stories to see if we might get struck by lightning. I believe that just as we’ve learned these stories, we can also unlearn them, change them, or replace them with more useful stories.
As I work with clients, our conversations inevitably touch on these stories. My ultimate goal is to help clients discard or change stories that are getting in their way (“Problem Stories”) and focus on stories that are helpful to them (“Preferred Stories”).
Family stories can be particularly hard for a client to see and change. It seems like the stories that we develop early are often less obvious to us and perhaps more integrated into our identities. Sometimes clients decide that their stories are still useful to them. Other times they decide that they’re not. In our discussions it frequently comes out that a story that was useful in the past is now a problem. Clients generally seem happier to let go of a problem story when we have a discussion of how the story has been useful and how they’ve changed and no longer need it. Sometimes even having the client thank the story can be something they find helpful.
When our conversations reach the point where a client becomes aware of a problem story, I like to discuss the origin of the story and whether the client finds the story to be useful. One of my favorite questions to ask, is: “Is that your story?” I find this to be a great way for clients to separate themselves from stories that are causing them problems.
>>What stories are getting in your way?
>>Are they your stories or do they belong to someone else?