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The next chapter

There are themes in my life, like in yours, that have emerged with time. Stories and phrases we repeat, things we’ve come to talk about as being true, internalised beliefs that we feel in our bodies.

I’ve mapped the key events of my life and found these themes were powerful, the patterns showed me I’d created all sorts of narratives. The thing is, not all of them were true.

The events and facts were real – my father died when I was six, I was an only child of a now single mother. I attended private schools on a trust fund left to me in the will of a family friend, but we had little money and charities paid for my school uniforms and excursions. I lived what felt like a parallel life.

But the patterns and stories I constructed around these and many other facts of my life have needed challenging over the years. I believed I was inadequate, I believed I was unloveable, unworthy, the one who misses out, the one people leave, the one who doesn’t get the good stuff in life. I’m the one who experiences pain while other people are living their best lives.

When my marriage broke down this was of course confirmed, I knew it! When I faced financial challenges, again, it must be true. And so it goes, making assumptions that we are somehow exceptional, we must be the only ones who experience life as we do, themes and patterns, recurring and holding us back from being loved and whole.

But it turns out we can de-construct these stories as powerfully as we con-structed them.

I’ve put together a Narrative Therapy resource to get you started on mapping your life and writing tools to help you order your thoughts and start to name your own themes. You can download it here.

Slowly and with support, I’ve been able to challenge the stories I had been telling myself for so many years. Marriages break down for so many reasons and we can heal with new self-understanding and know love again (side note: even if that love is with life and yourself). Financial stress is so common in our consumer society but we can turn it around.

Telling the truth about how we’re feeling and the ways these beliefs show up in our thoughts and lodge in our bodies, can bring freedom and healing.

Looking around, being brave and listening to the stories of others can dislodge the power of these narratives. Good friends and trusted therapists can reflect back to us the truth of our worthiness.

I read this quote by bell hooks recently and it stopped me in my tracks.

“One of the mighty illusions in our culture is that all pain is a negation of worthiness. That the real chosen people, are the people most free from pain.”

Pain is not evidence that we are somehow inadequate or unworthy, it’s evidence that we are human.

What do you want your next chapter to look like? You can write the script.

Go gently.

Download the Narrative Therapy exercise, Map your Life, here.

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