Storytelling: Changing the Narrative

Our memories of past events come from “narrative truth,” rather than “historical truth.” We remember the stories we tell ourselves about what happened, not what actually happened.

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A couple of blogs ago, I talked about the five options our clients (and we) have when confronted with a problem. We can:

  • Solve the problem in whole or part
  • Change the way we think and feel about it
  • Radically accept it
  • Make ourselves miserable
  • Make the situation worse

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Faulty Thinking

To be sure, she had been through a lot of pain in her life. At the same time, however, she suffered more because of the irrational “lessons” she had learned from the pain.

Clients with borderline personality disorder often assume the worst. No one is ever trustworthy.  If the kids go on a canoe trip, they are going to drown.  If a stranger strikes up a conversation in the grocery store, she just knows the person has an agenda and it isn’t good.   If a supervisor says something about her work, she knows she is going to get fired any minute.  There always has to be someone else to blame.   Nothing happens by accident; someone has to have caused her suffering.   At the same time, she constantly criticizes herself.  She never measures up to her own expectations.  The rare times she notices something good in her life, she quickly dismisseds it, telling herself it couldn’t be true or surely it wouldn’t last.  She is isolated and miserable.

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