How is the plotline in your personal story progressing?
Narrative psychotherapists often use the metaphor of book chapters in talking about the different periods of a person life. It can be helpful to review those periods from a fresh perspective as a beginning step of teasing out new meanings and perhaps even adopting a more empowering life narrative for yourself.
Traditionally, the task of exploring the chapters of one’s life involves identifying your focus, your allies, your obstacles and how you strove to overcome them. This is a great exercise but it tends to place a focus on our singular individual journey. As is likely apparent from exploring this website, one of my hopes is to encourage people to explore stories and narratives that both embrace our individuality and also our collective diversity. Doing so requires a greater emphasis on how we’ve reacted to the “other” in our lives. As such, I’ve added some questions that I hope will tease out some of those factors.
If you’re interested, you can use the form provided with this link to explore some of these question. But first, you’ll want to identify the periods of your life. To make this life review meaningful, I encourage you to identify at least three “chapters” so you can a sense of what direction your life story seems to be taking. I encourage you to pick no more than six to keep this exercise from feeling overwhelming.
The questions I’m encouraging you to explore follow. Feel free to add other questions that might seem especially meaningful to you. There is no absolute right or wrong way to do this?
What was your focus during this period?
What were your goals, stated and unsaid?
Who were your allies?
What were your obstacles or who stood in your way?
Were you successful in your efforts? What personal qualities or actions were helpful to you in that effort? Which qualities or actions worked against you?
Who was the most significant person or group, different from you, that you encountered?
How did you interact with them?
What causes or people did you champion or protect?
How were you the hero, however flawed, of this chapter of your life?
What lessons or values did you incorporate, helpful or otherwise, during this period?
Which lessons or values, in retrospect, do you wish you had learned?
Having given this chapter of your life a second look, how would you name it?
When you’re finished, let your work sit for a couple days. Then take a look at the chapters, reading them sequentially. What is the progression that you see? What are reoccurring obstacles? What are the values, qualities and actions that you want to carry forward? How can you continue to embrace and support worthy causes and the seemingly “other” in your midst?
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