June 7, 2013
Everyone has a narrative, narratives are stories we tell ourselves about how our lives should be from beginning to end. Most people are not fully aware of their narratives, until when confronted with a real life contradiction to that narrative.
Contradictions to any narrative usually come in the form of a failed relationships, being in a job you find miserable, having not accomplished in life as an adult what you had hoped to accomplish, e.t.c… People will sometimes respond to contradictions to their narrative by becoming sullen, withdrawn, or perhaps hostile and possibly knee deep into an addictive lifestyle. These people believe that without their narratives, their lives will cease to having meaning. So rather than face the evidence of contradiction, they seek a sense of peace by living in denial.
Stories are meant to change, life is chaotic and regardless of who you are things are never guaranteed to go your way. Ultimately, the key to maintaining a healthy sense of congruence is to practice flexibly, being ready to rewrite a narrative to adjust to circumstances in your life without betraying your core values. So how do you go about changing your narrative?
It’s as simple as coming to recognize the things you have control over and accepting the things over which you have no control over. Things which we have no control over are other people, other people’s actions, natural disasters and pretty much anything that takes place outside our consciousness. Things we have control over are our decisions.
If you notice, there are certain things we do on a daily basis that enable more consistency with us being able to experience content and achieve peace of mind. Likewise there are other things we do on a daily basis that pull us further from being able to experience content and achieve peace of mind on a consistent basis. Consider these examples;
Do you watch too much television? What would you do instead of watching three hours of television every day, and where would that different behavior lead you a year from now?
Do you find yourself drinking yourself to sleep every evening? What would change about your life if you ceased drinking alcohol every evening for one year?
While the list of examples could go on, the point is that our life stories are not completely out of our control and we have more power to influence our lives for better or for worse that we realize.
If you are serious about changing your life story, here’s what you do; write a short story about yourself or a fictional character like yourself who overcomes the personal struggles you are going through. Yes it works, you will soon find yourself committing to research on how to solve the problems you eh.. I mean your character is going through. Also if you ever experience doubts about how realistic your solutions for your character are, you always have the option of seeking professional consultation.
If you have tried this exercise before, I would love to read about how well it worked for you.
Ugo is a psychotherapist and owner of Road 2 Resolutions, a professional counseling and life coaching practice.