Have you heard of narrative therapy? I recently learned about it, which led me to do a life story exercise that you might enjoy doing also. In this blog article I’ll share my experience with this fun tool. If you do the exercise, please let me know how it goes!
So, on the night of the Spring Equinox, I lay in bed feeling as though I had come to a dead end in my life. As I ruminated about how my computer barely still works, and about how ten years of hardships have culminated at this dead end, suddenly I had a breakthrough moment in which I took responsibility. I said to myself, “You chose to come to this dead end for some reason.”
Remembering that everything happens for a reason helped to ease the pain and sadness, and within a few days I felt myself opening again to the Field of Infinite Possibilities. I affirmed that I needed to gaze around 360 degrees and see the world with fresh eyes. Right about that time, a friend sent me an article which led me to learn about narrative therapy.
From that article I printed out the Life Story exercise. The first task is to write your Book Title. Well, I started out with a bang… without thinking much, I wrote, “Teja’s Story of Coming Full Circle to a Dead End.” Sighing, I asked myself, “Would it be possible to reframe that title in a more positive light?” Nothing positive came to me right then, so I continued on, and wrote the seven Chapter Titles, along with their descriptions. The goal of the exercise is to review your life in brief, so as to not go too deeply into any memories, especially if you are working through any traumas. (The exercise is written for healing trauma, but anyone can benefit from doing it.)
It was so neat to see the seven chapters laid out like that. It was especially wonderful to see that I really did come full circle, from Chaper 1: Life in the Nourishing Roots of Indiana (Wholesome and healthy family, religion, and farmland with lots of love and nurture) to Chapter 7: Returning Home to Roots of Indiana (Wholesome plant-based living with loving parents, writing, regrouping, and reinventing while doing daily spiritual practices and facing the realities of HSP*-ness).
*Highly Sensitive Person
The third task is to write the chapter title and description for “Into the Future” which I wasn’t able to do that day because I have no idea what I’m going to do in the future! So at that point I had to stop the exercise and eat some dark chocolate, lol. This was actually in keeping with the “Time Out” instructions at the beginning of the exercise: “Always reflect on your inner state and notice if you need a break from the exercise to find your inner calm.”
While enjoying my chocolate time out, I reflected on the beautiful perspective I had gained through that writing exercise. It gave me a deeper understanding, which helped me to say, “I forgive and bless my whole past. I forgive and bless my whole life story and all the characters in it!”
Well, a few days later when I was feeling calm and positive, I finally got around to reframing my Book Title. I am very pleased with this new version: “Teja’s Story of Coming Full Circle to Her Happy Place, Reaching for Orange!” Orange is a joyful, happy color, and on the Hindu Yoga Path it represents the fire of renunciation, of renouncing worldly attachments and desires to focus on the Happiness within oneself. Through my daily spiritual practices I experience that happiness, so my “happy place” is right here inside my very own self.
I’ll end this article with a quote from Lisa Smartt, from her book Words at the Threshold: What We Say As We’re Nearing Death… “The happiest lives are framed by narratives that allow us to imagine we have made progress…”
Do you feel that you have made progress in your life so far?
image courtesy Public Domain Pictures