Changing our minds and life narrative one re-frame at a time
It happens in my therapy office every day…
When I start to unpack the stories behind what brought someone to therapy, there is a lot of history, a meandering journey of ups and downs. Many times those narratives fold in them a path that we had no way to impact or influence and the struggles we witnessed can still be overwhelming.
How can we change the stories that shaped our life? How can we create our own ‘Hero Journey’?
There were a lot of moments in our life, when we truly could not do anything to control the outcome of the chaos around us. Where grownups, or circumstances, were out of our control. We could not change the story, the journey, or the narrative of the fires that were wildly burning around us.
At times we had to cope and struggle with family members and close caretakers, who suffered addictions, mental illness, violence, abandonment, sicknesses, rejections, and betrayal. As children were were helpless to change any of those narratives. We were witness to a traumatic world that we could not change.
As we grow up, many of us were able to escape our childhood events and traumas, and our family of origin chaos, and build a life of our own. We became empowered, and able to change the narrative of our past, and to move through into a life we created for our self.
However, many times those childhood hardships can create a path in our brain that can and may continue to ‘default us’ into that old feeling of lack of control and power resonating from our past experiences as children. We may at times feel as if we yet again, are in that place of no control and helplessness.
Though I am not a ‘Narrative therapist’, I found the tools and skills of narrative therapy helpful and essential. “Narrative therapy is a form of counseling that views people as separate from their problems. This allows clients to get some distance from the issue to see how it might actually be helping them, or protecting them, more than it is hurting them. With this new perspective, individuals feel more empowered to make changes in their thought patterns and behavior and “rewrite” their life story for a future that reflects who they are, what they are capable of, and what their purpose is, separate from their problems.” from Psychology Today. (Drawing on the work of Michel Foucault, the approach was developed largely by Australian social worker Michael White and David Epston.)
In her writing and her workshops she invites us to re-frame our narrative, an to create our own personal myth, where we can become the heroes of our own journey.
‘Every day we relate stories about our highs and lows, relationships and jobs, heartaches and joys. But do we ever consider the choices we make about how to tell our story? In this groundbreaking book, Kim Schneiderman shows us that by choosing a different version we can redirect our energy and narrative toward our desires and goals. She presents character development workouts and life-affirming, liberating exercises for retelling our stories to find redemptive silver linings and reshape our lives.’
“Creating a personal myth is a fundamental way we find meaning. We are always the protagonist, with supporting characters providing love and assistance and antagonists posing challenges that push us beyond our comfort zones. Rather than narcissism or navel-gazing, the more intimate we become with our own story, the more we realize that everyone has an equally valid and vital narrative in which they are the central character. Understanding that everyone is on their own story journey can help us establish connection and empathy.” Reframing your life story.
In Narrative Therapy: Reframing Your Story Robin L. Flanigan writes:
“You are the author of the story of your life; although certain events are predetermined, you dictate how they are interpreted— for better or for worse.”
Changing the narrative of our relationship
Looking through the lens of (EFT), Emotionally Focused Therapy, we realize that so often when we fight and struggle in our relationship, we are protesting the lost of connection.
Re-framing the narratives of our relationships struggles, helps to own to our own vulnerability, and see our partners through the lenses of their attachment injuries, their fears, needs, and longing for connection.
In our Hold Me Tight® Couples Workshop, we help couples reshape the narrative of their relationship and learn how to become vulnerable, connected, and find the way back to being in a secure bond with their partners.
Decades ago, before I was a Marriage Family Therapist, I use to guide trips to the Grand Canyon in AZ. Though I went there with groups hundreds of times, every time I stood above that majestic view, with people who are seeing it for the first time, I felt as if it was my first time. I called it ‘contact high’..
Similarly, when I sit in the closing circle of our Hold Me Tight® Couples Workshop weekend, I feel that same feeling of awe and inspiration.
I feel immense gratitude for the opportunity to lead these workshops and to help couples reach a new level of intimacy in their relationship. It takes courage to sign up and show up to the workshop, as we all know, ‘things will come up’…
Our next Hold Me Tight® (Hold Me Tight® is a registered trademark to Sue Johnson), will be here, in beautiful Nevada City in Northern California, Saturday to Sunday, June 8-9, 2019.
I am excited to announce that Owen Marcus, MA, author, workshop facilitator, and TEDxTalk presenter on Masculine Emotional Intelligence, will once again be assisting me leading the workshop.
Owen brings with him the width of decades of leading and facilitating men’s group all over the country, helping men access their masculine vulnerability. Owen’s presence, and his work with couples and men, will enhance this upcoming Hold Me Tight workshop. Owen has been intensely involved in his new company, Evryman, reaching men all over the world, helping them to access and connect with their deep emotions and vulnerability.
Owen’s TEDX talk: What 10,000 Years Of Progress Has Cost | Owen Marcus | TEDxSpokane
Here is what John Gotman says about Sue’s work:
“At last, a road map through Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy with its creator. Dr. Johnson’s superb science, humor, and clinical wisdom are finally accessible to all of us. I couldn’t pick a smarter, warmer, and more real guide for this journey.”
John Gottman, Ph.D., author of The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work.
At our Hold Me Tight relationship enhancement Workshop , you will learn and experience how to:
• Affirm strengths in your relationship by developing understanding, communication, and bonding.
• Address negative cycle patterns, and learn why they show up, and how to get out of them.
• Learn how to repair and forgive injuries, and become vulnerable with each other.
• Enhance your emotional, physical, and sexual closeness, and INTIMACY.
Here are some of the TESTIMONIALS for our Jan 2019 workshop:
“Owen and Dalia created a setting where we as couples felt safe and encouraged to open up our partners in new and deeper ways that I did not think could happen at a retreat with other couples. It was very real and very much a relationship change that was much needed.”
“Dalia and Owen gave us a great gift – the ability to step back, to really listen, to ask for what we need, and to feel heard without judgment. I feel closer to my partner, and much more enthusiastic for the adventure that lies ahead.”
Please FORWARD the information to anyone you think will benefit from this work, and please call or email me with any questions or for more information.
I am in gratitude to all of you