The concept of rewriting your life story has been the focus of magazines, talk shows, self-help forums, and the therapy community for decades now. Rooted in narrative therapy, it's one of my favorite approaches to self-improvement, yet I think there are some automatic, subconscious thoughts that pop up for people when the topic comes up.
In this article, we'll take a look at four common beliefs that often get in the way before real progress can take place. With each, I'll give some jumping off points that may just encourage you to challenge some of your blocking beliefs about your ability to rewrite your own story.
1) It's nice in theory, but overly simplistic.
Actually, no, it is quite hard work. Rewriting your story involves a great deal of honesty with yourself. Looking at the past and identifying negative self-beliefs and stories that are no longer working for you is an "all-in" kind of thing. It requires an approach that is steeped in self-compassion. Ask Yourself: When I look at past events, can I identify alternative meanings, areas of profound growth, or powerful insights that have since occurred and shaped me as the wonderfully unique and strong person that I am?
2) So I can just pretend a certain element of my past never existed and move on? Seems a bit contrived.
No, that would be denial, and we all know what a mess denial can bring! Rewriting your story involves acknowledging your past, not running from it. However, as the author, you get to pick and choose how that story looks and feels, who may read it cover to cover, and who may not. You are in control, and with the help of a skilled therapist, the process of confronting your past should be done with care and a great deal of pacing.
3) My story is painful- there's no way to change it..."it is what it is."
The goal of this approach is not to invalidate or minimize your pain. For some, it is not time to move beyond the painful emotions that come with trauma and loss. For others, they are ready to move through that pain and get to the other side of it where some serious growth and healing can occur. With the right therapist, you can learn to trust yourself and your own feelings and body cues to know when you're pushing too hard or when you're ready for this step.
4) Sure I can try, but it'll never last.
Actually, the celebrity success stories that are out there (think Oprah, Cherly Strayed, Charlize Theron) are out there because they did stand the test of time. It's a slow process, and as I mentioned, a challenging one. But the pay off is big. It can open doors that you never knew existed within yourself and can equip you for challenges down the road.
If any of these ring true for you, that's a good place to start unpacking. Be curious about the need to hold onto old, limiting self-beliefs. Don't judge yourself. Consider this part of your current story and let that simmer for a while. Perhaps, soon, you'll be ready for a re-write!
PS- If you're interested in learning more about my psychotherapy services, contact me to schedule a free 15 minute consultation by clicking here.