“Identity is a narrative of the self—it’s a story we tell about the self in order to know who we are” –Stuart Hall
In our day to day lives, we are always telling stories. We tell these stories to one another and in our own minds. A story, is anything that we communicate to ourselves. Stories are how we create, communicate content, understanding and relevance between random events and details. I engage with stories through my therapeutic practice, Threads Education and Counselling, by way of narrative therapy.
When you sit down and reflect upon the story that you have been living lately, or what I like to call your “story of the moment” you begin to shed a mindful light on how you are feeling and experience an embodied sense of knowing.
I will ask you: what is the story that you have been living lately? The lived stories are often multi-faceted; can be contradictory and not linear. Is it a story, to name some possibilities, that includes: struggle, hope, perseverance, love, anger, disappointment, grief, overcoming, expansion, growth, steadiness, survival, or rapid change? I would then ask you how you would describe your “story of the moment”. What is sitting heavy inside? What are you preoccupied with and why?
It is important to explore your “story of the moment” and start in this place in order to gain insights. We gain insights relationally through getting inside the stories you are living and contemplating them. I would ask you to describe your story in five to seven sentences. Some clients like to narrate their stories aloud, others like to write or type them out in a contemplative writing practice I guide them through.
Once the story is expressed, I ask you if this is the story you want to be living right now? We explore the reasons why and the reasons why not. This allows a jumping-off point into expanding on the “story of the moment” and looking at outside and institutional influences (family, school, work, relationships, location, age, gender, race, class, religion, health) that impact the stories we live. As a trained witness and narrative therapist, it is my job to ask questions of how circumstances, events, and your particular social locations are colouring the stories that you are living and breathing inside and alongside of.
We then, explore if you need to make some significant changes in your life in order to change the story; if there is a way you can shift perspectives to understand your current story in another way; or if there is a new story that you can tell and inhabit in place of the story you have been living inside of and are speaking about.
I bring in mindfulness grounding techniques, thematic prompts, and the possibility of expressive art techniques to round out and fully access the complexities of the stories inside.
I will conclude this piece with an exercise I do to explore the narratives of our lives. I ask my clients to create a self-portrait. Many choose to draw themselves while others stick with words and create rich descriptors based on self-reflection of who and how you are today. This prompt allows the “story of the moment” to appear from the corner of the heart of mind, untangle from the mess in a drawer, reveal itself so that it can be expressed and understood.