Author: Traci Ruble, MFT
I find it amazing how we all have an autobiography that we
tell, or a personal narrative, but often half of it is operating under the covers
out of our awareness. We just can’t
imagine why in the heck we have found ourselves in this exact same relationship
or situation AGAIN! Even for us
therapists who have worked on ourselves for years, for me, I get tripped
Most of the time we aren’t conscious of the stories we are
telling and aren’t usually motivated to get conscious about them unless they
are causing discomfort, grief, anxiety etc., and yet that discomfort can propel
us too quickly to fix it, move past it, get over it. While
the stories are just artifacts of things we chose to believe with a younger
mind and good intent, we are so committed to these narratives that we will
continually recreate scenarios that prove these life scripts correct even
though we hate how they turn out. They
make us feel familiar to ourselves and our human brain wants to grab on to that
familiarity and they served us in some way when we first made up the fairytale.
For example, someone who believes “my opinion doesn’t matter” recreates that
unwittingly. They probably decide on
that story at the wise old age of five.
Their brain came up with this conclusion based on a number of
inputs. The end result is he or she might
become someone who talks a lot, butts in, speaks loudly and doesn’t let another
get a word in edge-wise in order to counteract the story. Or same story, different strategy, that
person simply chooses never to ever voice an opinion. In both scenarios, that person’s opinion
likely will be discounted.
Ironically we tend to pair off and choose a romantic partner
who supports our personal story. If my
story is “I am going to lose my freedom” we might choose a partner whose story
is “I am anxious you will leave” and each will act their part to a tee where
the one fearing losing freedom is unpredictable in their availability and the
one anxious is smothering and voila, life has proven their story and they fight,
get stuck, break up or come in to see me for couples therapy.
There are many different kinds of therapies and
practitioners who work with these narratives.
Byron Katie talks about challenging the story, spiritual practitioners
encourage a dis identification with the self that creates the story, different
schools of therapy work with what you think, others work with patterns that
keep getting repeated and where they came from so that once you know where it
started you can shift it, others work within a self responsibility model or
what is happening right now, others look at how the body tells your story….and
the list goes on. Whew. I am out of breath naming the myriad of ways
that I have received as a client and have practiced as a psychotherapist.
What is incredibly easy to get caught up in, though, is this
notion that there should be an end point or a kind of “achievement” one can
attain in being rid of negative self beliefs. There is a kind of personal growth
determinism in “trying to be the best you” that actually leaves ourselves in
the dust. I think the biggest edge in working with
anything we do that isn’t working for us is to meet that “thing” with loving
If we try to do a disection job with our negative stories then we aren’t afforded the opportunity to feel and experience and notice all
the ways “that story” has served us as well as hurts us. By forcing change upon ourself, we get rigid and then aren’t open to any change.
We find ourselves using personal growth or even our own personal therapy to
further get away from what we actually need to meet inside ourselves and be curious about. What
was the five year old in us trying to do when he or she wrote that
fairytale? Keep us safe?
Keep us healthy? Keep us alive? Keep us noticed? When we can deeply respect and honor and feel the
underlying intelligence in fairytales our psyche ripens
for change through this kind of acceptance. I myself still have to meet aspects of myself
every day with curiousity and acceptance rather than rigid fixing and the process is humbling.
Labels: Acceptance, Byron Katie, Negative Beliefs, Traci Ruble