According to Narrative Therapy, life is not what happens to us. Life is determined by a collection of stories in our minds that we use to connect the dots of the events happening all around us.
What is Narrative Therapy?
Narrative therapy is the therapy of storytelling and how the stories in our minds affect how we perceive everyday situations. Most people believe that their stories are reality. However, this is rarely the case. It is also often believed that events and data in our lives precede the story, however narrative therapy helps us see that the story precedes the events and data.
Narrative Therapy comes from the perspective that life is not a series of events that happen to you, but rather is a collection of data in our minds that connect the dots between those events. By using narrative therapy techniques, individuals identify the negative aspects of their stories and are helped to create a new narrative framework to replace it.
How do you use it in practice?
In narrative therapy, the individual is helped to:
Express their problem stories in a concrete form.
Understand their problems within a larger context.
Identify how to make room and replace their old problem stories with new positive ones.
Being A Cognitive Magnet:
Let's say I have a story in my mind that says rotten things always happen to me. With this story I might walk around in life like a detective, seeking and searching for negative things, so that I may prove that the story in my head — that bad things happen to me — is really true. There's so much data in the world that one could find data to prove just about any story.
Narrative therapy can teach us to change the “narrative,” or reality, in our minds so that we start to act as a cognitive magnet that attracts and expects good things in our lives.
What are the benefits of Narrative Therapy?
The benefits of narrative therapy are that once you understand the process, it’s possible to immediately change your life in a heartbeat as opposed to doing years and years of therapy. Narrative therapy allows you to have that “aha” moment that changes the way you think about things on a dime.
How do you combine it with other therapies?
Something that helps create a negative story is a traumatic event where something bad happens to us. In this case, we can have all kinds of negative symptoms. Along with other supported therapies, Narrative Therapy can break through and ease these symptoms. Our brains get wired to believe certain things. When trauma happens to a person there are a variety of ways of loosening and releasing that trauma. One of the benefits of this process is that we also loosen and release a bad negative story, making room for a good story. EDMR is a type of therapy that specifically works to change this narrative.
What are some examples of this in practice?
Let's say the story that someone has in their head is that that they are not very good at public speaking. People think they need data, such as accolades, or they need something on their social wall that says they are great at public speaking. By holding on to this story, the individual creates a set of data that keeps them believing the narrative is true. However, something interesting happens when the story is changed. If the individual starts to rewrite the story that they are great speaker, then they will start to see data that supports that story.
“No theory is correct but some of them are useful.” - Albert Einstein
One of my favorite quotes from Einstein is that, “No theory is correct but some of them are useful.” It's the same with the stories in our heads. No stories are absolutely correct. You could always find an exception in any story, but some of them are useful. I think that a story that says good things happen to me and I'm a success are stories that help us navigate life happily. Why not install those stories in our minds to replace negative stories?
Many people have a narrative in their minds that they are not allowed to be happy until the conditions are perfect. For example, in order to be happy, I need to have a certain amount of money, a partner, perhaps a nice a job, perhaps everyone in my family is doing alright, maybe I cant be happy if their in still racism in the world, and hunger, and world leaders that take us down really bad paths. If we wait for all those problems to be solve, before we allow ourselves to be happy, will we every be happy? Most people that I have met that are unhappy, problem could be happy if they gave themselves permission. One of my favorite of my things to tell people lately is that you don;t need a good reason to be happy. lets face it, we live in an imperfect world in an unending stream of horrible circumstances. It’s really hard to find justification to be happy, in a world like that. So, I have made it my goal in life to help people to feel free, to be happy, kind and loving. The meta message is that one more happy person in the world gets us closer to achieving the goal of being happy, kind, and loving. Please accept my goal of everyone being happy, kind and loving as a permission slip to be happy, even though the world is not happy yet.