What if the story you live your life by isn’t working?
We are wired for story. Story is about where we came from and where we are going. Story is what gives our lives meaning. It is what connects us to others and allows us to know and be known.
"When we deny our stories, they define us. When we own our stories, we get to write a brave new ending”. Dr. Brene Brown.
My children have been telling me for years to write a book about my life. My story is a very unusual one. Not many people lived the experiences I had as a child. But I have not yet figured out what story I want to tell about it.
My father was a brilliant and funny story teller. So I learned from him the importance and power of story. I was drawn to the work of Brene Brown in part because she is both a story teller and a social worker. She describes herself as a “researcher and story teller”.
I am a social worker too, but I am arguably the world’s worst story teller. Really, I am. In fact, you should probably stop reading this story right now.
But I am a good social worker, and I am a good therapist. Because I know, even if I can’t tell a good story, I know how to help you re-write your own story if it isn’t working for you anymore.
We have to know our own story: What if the stories we tell ourselves are ones we made up in child hood, but no longer work for us as adults? What if the narrative of our lives is one written by others, and is not an authentic reflection of who we are or how we want to be? We have to learn which stories are not useful for us any longer, and which stories we need to cultivate.
We are the author of our own story: In every fairy tale, there is a dragon. None of us get through life without hardship, heartache, failure and pain. But it is those very challenges, those dragons to use the storytelling metaphor, where the story becomes most interesting. The dragons are the opportunities to be the hero of your own story. We are the author, but sometime we lose sight of that truth.
What will be your own brave new ending? Often it is when we can no longer ignore the truth that the story we are living our life by is not working that we are ready to reach out for help. I read somewhere that depression is a sign from the world that it is time to make a change. Therapy is a process wherein you “rewrite” the story you tell about yourself and about your life. We can re-direct the stories we tell about ourselves in ways that lead to lasting change. We get to decide how the story goes.
What is your brave new ending?