I am so excited about what is yet to come for A Different Perspective. Not only do I hope to use this blog as a way to share my perspective on many situations and circumstances happening around us, but I hope to engage and connect with many of you so that I may also gain a different perspective.
Before I began sharing ideas and perspectives about issues that are sometimes troubling, it is important for me to share something that I hope may ensure we all have an incredible year!
“Rewrite Your Story” is a phrase I have been saying to myself and others around me for a few weeks now. Why?
A few weeks ago, I was talking to one of my very best friends (who is also a psychologist) about something that made me feel uneasy. I was likely complaining about how I did not feel like I had attained enough “success,” or that I was not doing enough to help others in need, or that I simply just did not feel like I had accomplished enough of the goals I had set for myself. My friend listened, and instead of agreeing with me or letting me continue along the horrible road I was traveling on, she told me something different.
“Amber, you need to rewrite your story!”
Huh? Rewrite my story? My Snapchat Story? What story?
“Amber, you see it one way but I see it a total different way.” For several moments after that, I listened to my friend uplift and encourage me to rewrite my story.
What is Narrative Therapy?
Narrative Therapy is a form of therapy that seeks to help the individual separate themselves from the circumstances of their lives. This is accomplished by utilizing basic skills, values, beliefs, and abilities the individual already possesses in order to reduce the influence of negative bias, selective attention, and all-or-nothing thinking. However, just because this is a form of therapy, that does not mean you need to hire a psychologist to integrate aspects of this therapy into your own life. This is possible because it is natural for people to view and interpret circumstances within their lives as events, linked sequences, and stories that ultimately determine the outcomes of their future. Once we are able to determine how we speak or think about the circumstances of our lives, it is possible to begin to view and speak about them in a much different manner.
Need an example?
It could be something as simple as this:
Rather than saying, “I’m not creative at all,” change it to this: “Creativity is a skill I am working to build.”
See the difference? The first statement dismisses any amount of creativity you may have, even if it’s just a tiny bit. However, the second statement acknowledges that you possess some creativity, yet you hope to gain more. The best part is that with this new change in your story, you will gain more creativity because you will not have placed a limit on your skills or diminished your abilities in any way. Rather, you have made room for more growth.
Many times, it’s a little more complicated. Maybe something like this:
“I spent five long years in college working toward my goal of becoming a [preferred profession of your choice here] only to graduate and be unable to find a job in my field. Now I have to settle for something different and my plans are ruined. Maybe school was a waste of time because now I will never get back on track.”
Let’s rewrite the story like this:
“I have graduated and accomplished my goal of attaining my degree. I have had some difficulty finding work within my field, however I have met a lot of new people along the way that I hope to connect with again in the future. I have accepted a position that is not exactly what I had planned for, but I can see how I could develop certain skills while working this position that will help me get to where I want to be in the future.”
See the difference? Same circumstance, yet much different story.
Remembering to “Rewrite Your Story” means that you are now in charge of the meaning ascribed to your life. Rather than letting life happen and allowing your life story to be filled with negative, hurtful, or unproductive events, just change them. Find new meaning in all the mishaps, mistakes, and unforeseen circumstances that are sure to come about in this year and then watch how different your life will become.
So what stories will you be rewriting today?
Dr. Amber Thornton
Clinical psychologist with a passion for family, community, culture, and diversity.