By Olga Zavgorodnya
Our own personal stories are our own accounts of who we are, what we have done, the intentions we had, our limits and successes. Everyone is bound to produce stories to have an understanding of who they really are. And who we are is mainly our personality and outlook on life. Therefore, our story and the way we tell it to others has tremendous ramifications.
If you have lived through a tough life of abuse and violence – these experiences can cause defeating or destructive thoughts and harmful behavior. If the story you tell is of a character who doesn’t believe in themselves and labels themselves as weak because of the way they remember moments from their lives that left them feeling weak; it’s time to go back and take another look at the story – with a different theme where this character is praised for their resilience in being able to survive what they have been through.
Rewriting your life is not an easy task; however, go through your life’s most memorable moments and describe them in the most favorable way—not only describe, but define them in a way that makes you more of the hero than victim or mere bystander.
I understand some will ask “Okay so what now, what will that do; the moments happened either way, right?” Well, this is an excellent question. Certainly, the moment occurred and cannot be undone; however, the way a person remembers an event or re-tells that event defines the way that this person thinks/remembers about themselves in that situation. When you remember yourself as a victim, you internalize that moment, that experience, and that identity – that of a victim. The goal is to your experience and recognize what it taught you – even if it was a demonstration of how you may not want to live your life.
University of Virginia social psychologist Tim Wilson a researcher in rapid, positive reframing, created a method that is part of Narrative Therapy; he calls his particular brand “story editing” or “story prompting”. Dr. Wilson’s techniques show beneficial outcomes in perspective and behavior. What if rewriting your life story changes your perception of yourself? Imagine that it actually helps you move on from something that may be haunting you. It’s not an easy task, which is why many do this with a trained mental health professional well-versed (pun intended) in narrative therapy.
In therapy, rewriting your story with a therapist helps create a safe environment and gives you the guidance you need to get through it. There are ways to move on—you do not have to be stuck feeling trapped by a story someone else wrote for you. What is your story telling you?
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