If you wrote a story about yourself, what would it say?
How do you talk about yourself? When you're getting to know someone, what are the stories you share with them? Do you ever leave out certain details or emphasize others?
Working with your story can be one of the most meaningful and change-inspiring ways to recognize the habitual paths our brains take.
Narrative reflection, or story-work as I call it, is an opportunity to share about you in an open and genuine way. Since the coaching relationship is judgment-free, you have the space to talk about your story in a way that feels true to you. You don't have to bend or twist it to fit what you think your audience wants to hear, just share.
The beautiful part of this work is that, in this open space, the narrative can become a third party in the relationship. This means that rather than it being concretely identifying of you, it can become this thing to observe, to hear, and to reflect on.
When we don't have these opportunities to tune into what stories we are actually telling ourselves, we absorb the details and the underlying messages as our very own identifying elements and it is important to ask how these messages are serving you.
You may start to hear yourself repeating a story in which you feel shame, but actually, maybe it was the first time you held a boundary. Maybe, while uncomfortable, it is something to take pride in.
You may notice fear and doubt welling up in yourself when describing an ambitious goal, but when the story is the third party you can, instead, see a place to be curious about what is holding you back.
You may start to realize that the story you're telling is actually not your own, but one that a parent or friend has built up and that you took on as your own. Perhaps, your real experience speaks to strengths that were washed over in their version.
Story-work is a way to look at your story and start to see its own holes and habits. It is a way to reconceive who we are and how we show up in the world. When we can look at these things a little more objectively, we can start to see new ways of envisioning ourselves, our strengths, our vulnerabilities, and our goals. We can begin to build new pathways for our brains, and flip burdensome perspectives on their back, making way for a healthier, more fulfilled version of ourselves.