Healing Through the

POWER OF

REWRITING

YOUR STORY

By Leanne Sawchuk

"Stories shape our reality and help us make sense of our experiences, relationships, past and present. They help us understand who we are now, who we were then, and who we will be going forward."

Healing Through the Power of Rewriting Your Story

Your stories can make or break you! Is that not the best pick-up line ever? I mean, it's better than "do you come here often?". Alright, I came on a little hot and heavy there. So let me tone it down a bit and start with this...

"Who are you?"

No, this is not a trick question.

Often when I ask someone this question, I tend to get a bewildered look coming back at me like I just asked them THE most profound question ever!

Maybe I did.

We often think of who we are in terms of our roles. I am a mother, a sister, a daughter, a friend, a wife, a partner. We also define who we are based on what we do. I am a doctor, a therapist, a dream alchemist, a medical secretary, an engineer, an athlete, a circus performer. You get the idea.

Whenever I reflect on this question, I immediately think of the book "The Untethered Soul" by Michael A. Singer, which may have been the first time I stopped to consider the question "who am I?" At the time, it felt like both an absurd and jarring question. So what did I do about it? I closed the book, never to return. Actually, that isn't true —but, I mean, how dare he ask me that! The truth is, if anyone were to ask me this question a decade ago, I likely would have looked at them the same way people look at me now.

Aside from our roles, who we are —or think we are —is often defined by the stories we tell ourselves (our narrative). Our stories can range from "I am worthy of love" (that's good, so keep that one) to "I'm not enough," "I'm too much," "I'm not loveable."

Whatever our story is, we will find evidence to support it. Not all stories are bad, though.

Stories shape our reality and help us make sense of our experiences, relationships, past and present. They help us understand who we are now, who we were then, and who we will be going forward.

Some stories empower us. Some stories leave us feeling trapped.

Something I explore a lot in my work with clients is the stories that leave them feeling trapped. These kinds of stories can create all types of pain, fear, resistance, avoidance, and the feeling of being stuck. We often hold our stories close, but sometimes we hold on to them for dear life.

How are your stories getting in the way?

  • Do you find yourself making unfair assumptions about somebody else? For example, someone does not respond to your e-mail, and you find yourself launching into all the reasons why they have not responded (most of which have to do with something you said or did wrong).
  • Have bad experiences with dating left you deciding never to date again, but adopt 13 cats instead because they will forever be your feline companions and never betray you?
  • Has a childhood of neglect and inconsistent love left you feeling like you are not worthy of love or not enough in your current relationships, so you focus solely on appeasing and leaving your feelings and needs on the shelf?
  • Do you find yourself talking yourself out of taking the next big step in your life? Applying for that job, going for that promotion, saying yes to going on that first date?
  • Do you find yourself saying that you will just take care of everything that needs to get done because you can't depend on anyone but yourself?

If you answered yes to one of the above, you should likely just give up while you are ahead. I'm kidding, of course! What I meant to say was that you are probably caught up in a story from your past.

While we use our stories as a form of self-protection, they are often stories we needed in the past (at times, for our survival), but how are they serving you now?

There is some good news, though! You can rewrite your stories. True story! (see what I did there?) While this is not an overnight transition like a 7-step instant pot stew, there are a few steps you can take now to get you started.

  1. Develop Self-Awareness: Reflect on the stories that keep coming up in your life that keep you stuck. One way to explore this is to identify where you find yourself in the same pattern repeatedly. Once you have identified this, write it down.
  2. Reflect on when this story began and how it may have served you at that time.
  3. Understand where this story plays out now (work, relationship, friendship, etc.).
  4. Decide what you want your new story to be. For example, if your story is that you have to do everything yourself because you don't trust that other people will follow through, then perhaps your new story can be —"I give myself permission to ask others for help and give them the chance to follow through because I do not need to do everything on my own."

You do not have to live your life stuck in your past patterns. So when you choose to rewrite a story that keeps you stuck, you are also choosing a sense of freedom and a healthier way to show up for yourself and others.

Leanne Sawchuk

Leanne Sawchuk is a Registered Psychotherapist with a private practice in the Kitchener Waterloo area. She works with Couples and individuals both in person and online. You can connect with her at leannesawchuck.com @leannesawchuktherapy