I was reminded today of how narrative and telling your story has so much healing power. Author Brene Brown says “When we deny the story, it defines us. When we own the story, we can write a brave new ending (2015).” From my experience with narrative psychology I have witnessed personally and professionally how telling your story can be beneficial for several reasons.
One reason sharing your story is beneficial is that when you take the time to think about your experiences and how you felt about your experiences it can be cathartic. It helps your brain process what has happened. (Turnbull, 2011).
Secondly, looking at your life story can help you see your history in a balanced perspective. Some models of narrative interviewing including McAdam’s Life History Interview Protocol (revised 1995) asks for both the highlights and the low points in one’s life. This can help a person see the good through the bad but can also help you recognize and acknowledge the painful times if you haven’t done that yet. Having a balanced or dialectical lens to your situation or story is an approach based on both Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (Aaron T Beck) or Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (Marsha Linehan).
Often, when looking at a life narrative the inherent strength and resiliency of humans becomes apparent. This can provide sustained hope in the midst of painful experiences. It can help us see that I’ve been through tough stuff before and I’ve survived, so I can do it again. This overall perspective of seeing yourself and/or clients from a strengths based perspective comes from “The Strengths Model” Dennis Saleebey, Charles Rapp & Anne Weick (1997).
Lastly, in the writing of our story it gives us the opportunity to tell our story with trusted others. This can bring immense healing because it makes us vulnerable to intimacy, connection and love. Being authentic in community is a huge factor of personal healing and growth (Brown, 2010).
Is there a time when you remember hearing someones story and being impacted by that? What would be the highlights and lowlights of your story? Who would you trust your story with?
We would love to hear your thoughts and would be interested in knowing if you would sign up for a narrative therapy class.
2016 Beck Institute for Cognitive Behavior Therapy. www.beckinstitute.org
2017 Behavioral Tech. www.behaviouraltech.org
Brene Brown, 2015. https://brenebrown.com/blog/2015/06/18/own-our-history-change-the-story
Brene Brown, 2010. https://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability
TraumaTrauma, BookFrom Lockerbie to 7/7 : How Trauma Affects Our Minds and How We Fight BackBy Turnbull, Gordon; 2011
The Strengths Model. Dennis Saleebey, Charles Rapp & Anne Weick. In 1997
McAdams, Dan. 1995. https://www.sesp.northwestern.edu/docs/Interviewrevised95.pdf