If you’re interested in some self examination — the kind you don’t have to pay a therapist for — I have a suggestion! Do some reflection on the “stories” you tell about yourself. What exactly does that mean?
Most, if not all of us, have a fairly significant number of stories from our past that we pull out to help define ourselves to other people. That can be when 1) you are meeting someone new and want a way to describe aspects of your personality and/or your general history; 2) when interviewing for a job and a story appears to be a good way to describe how you handle challenging work situations; 3) when attempting to communicate difficult parenting choices and decisions to one of your kids; 4)when re-connecting with old friends and reminiscing about your history with one another; 4) when defending a position or idea you have just outlined — a story about the “success” of your idea might help; 5) when rationalizing and justifying — just to yourself — about an action, choice, decision.
There are possibly many more situations when your “stories” come up in conversation, so write down any additional ones that pop into your mind….and use these 5 for a start to the examination. Ask these questions:
1- How often do I tell a particular story?
2- Do I change it from time to time or situation to situation?
3-Do I “re-create” my history in certain situations or with certain people?
4-How have my stories changed over the years?
5-Do I understand the actual intent of the stories I tell?
6-Is there something positive or negative about this process?
7-How honest am I with MYSELF about my history?
8-Do I have a clear idea about the impact of the stories I tell?
People who come to therapy have a “story” or many stories to share about their lives. And perhaps in a similar way, we are engaging in our own therapeutic conversations with friends, family, colleagues when we share our “stories.” The key is to understand the stories that you believe define your life, your history, the place you find yourself RIGHT NOW. And the purpose of looking at these stories is to see if they enhance your self-understanding, or instead limit you by keeping you stuck in a belief about yourself.
We CAN change our direction in life if our stories are limiting us. Write down every story you have ever shared about how you see your history and who you are. Check them for positive or negative energy. Do they move you forward, maybe backwards, keep you stuck? Are you defining yourself in any way that limits emotional, intellectual, physical and spiritual well-being?
Stories are powerful. Make them something you understand. Pay attention. Analyze when you can. And ask me any questions you might have. Self care and freedom from unnecessary anxiety and depression is the key…