My bread and butter as a therapist is the work that is sometimes called “story work”, or “Narrative Therapy”. I would love to help you discover how the story of your life can become the beginning of a great story, one that you have the ability to co-author.
If your life were a story
(and it is),
what kind of a story would it be?
Tragedy? Comedy? Drama? Boring or exciting? Most important: Is it a story worth living?
Here’s what the poet Dante wrote about his story at a crucial juncture:
“In the middle of the road of my life, I awoke in a dark wood
where the true way was wholly lost to me.” (The Divine Comedy)
Here’s the dilemma that we all face:
You don’t know what the heck you’re doing. But you have to do something.
You don’t know what the heck you’re doing…
The universe is mind-blowingly complicated. All of us are, to some degree, lost. That “lost-ness” can take many forms, but one way or another, we are all sometimes Dante at the beginning of The Divine Comedy, lost in a dark wood.
But you have to do something.
Even if you’re lost, you have to make choices. And those choices have grave consequences for you and for everyone else. Being clueless doesn’t absolve you of responsibility. An infinite tree of consequences will branch out from the choices you make or refuse to make today. Regardless of how you are suffering now, your choices play some role in determining whether and how you and others around you will continue to suffer moving forward.
So: Get your story straight
So now what? It is incumbent on you to decide how you are going to resolve this dilemma.
Here’s what I recommend: You have to get your story straight, find out what kind of story you’re living in. You have to figure out where you are and how you got there if you want to have any clue whatsoever about what would constitute a responsible choice moving forward.
Our lives are framed by the stories we tell ourselves about our lives. The kind of story you believe you’re in—the script you instinctively live out—dictates how you feel about where you are, and what kind of choices you make moving forward. So: If you are feeling lost, that’s a sign that you may be reading from a script that doesn’t fit the best possible version of the story of your life. That script isn’t working anymore. It is time for a fresh re-reading of your story. This gives you the opportunity to lay aside those old scripts, and start writing new ones.
Here are some brilliant words from the poet David Whyte about the times when we need of a fresh re-reading of our life stories:
In Narrative Therapy, this is called “Re-Storying” your life. This approach begins with providing a safe place for you to tell your story. Exploration of your present unfolds into fresh discoveries about how you got to where you are. Then, our re-reading of your past and present becomes fertile ground for you to choose how to step into the chapter of your story that you are about to write.
The psychological, emotional, and practical benefits of writing your life story are well-established. (In one study for example, those who wrote for 15 minutes about their most traumatic experience four days in a row experienced better health outcomes up to four months later. (Baikie & Wilhelm, 2005)) We know that talking or writing about your past changes the way memories are coded in your brain: It transforms unarticulated memories into stories that you can make sense of. Then you experience a greater sense of agency and freedom moving forward.
You can “re-story” your life on your own—and I highly recommend it! Check out Dr. Jordan B. Peterson’s “Self-Authoring” program. It will guide you through a comprehensive process of writing your life story.
Maybe you want a guide (That’s me)
But sometimes we need help. After all, wounding occurs in the context of relationships, and often healing has to happen in the context of relationships as well. Therapy can be the context for a healing relationship.
Maybe confronting your story feels overwhelming: like a dark forest that you don’t know how to confront. Or maybe you just know that walking through your story with a trusted guide would make the process easier. —That’s what I’m here for. I am a guide who knows the terrain of stories. I understand trauma, abuse and other kinds of wounding. I know how to step gently into difficult stories in a way that will bring healing and change rather than a new experience of harm.
Get in touch with me for a free consult, and we can talk about whether coming to me for therapy is the best next step for you.
By the way, here’s a video that explains the Self-Authoring Program I mentioned above. It’s a cheesy, low-quality video, but the information it provides is fantastic:
Also, do yourself a favor and have a listen to the poet David Whyte’s take on those opening lines from Dante’s Divine Comedy: