Part of what I do on a day to day basis is dissect stories and what led me here is through the dissection of my own story.
Often, the stories we tell ourselves can be so limiting, yet at times create so much safety. We, as humans, are the greatest storytellers.
Make meaning by looking back for narrative.
For many, there can be shame attached to our story, or parts of our story. I have learned, both personally and professionally, that the shame dissipates when we unravel and share our story. For me, the unraveling of my story began years ago and as I shared more, I learned I no longer needed to hide and there was so much healing in this for me.
This does not mean that it was not scary, because it was, but over time I became more comfortable with it. Interestingly enough, my story sharing started with sharing with a therapist I was working with at the time and then eventually to larger groups of people (all strangers).
The power of sharing our stories
Who do we share our story with? This is a big deal!
Who has earned the right to hear or receive our story? The biggest piece here is safety.
A way to dig deeper into who can (or cannot share with), is who in your life holds space for you? Who listens to your experiences and just lets it be ok and lets you know that you are loved and worthy and not alone.
Who has been there through your dark? It is easy to be there for the good times, but what about the not so good times?
Sometimes people arrive in my office and do not have this.
Is there a relationship in your life that has the potential of having this quality. If so, how can you cultivate it more? Sometimes we get caught up in who we really want to be “the one”. The one who holds that space for us, the one who is our “go-to” person.
However, it can often be a very painful process in learning that this person cannot show up for us in the way(s) we need, consistently.
Sometimes this very thing is what brings someone to therapy. This is all information and worth exploring further. We often relate this to our own lack of worth and label ourselves as being “too much”, but often it is really about them and their discomfort around being with another’s discomfort.
There is a grieving process involved here around honouring and being with the loss around this piece, but also an opportunity to move through this grief and loss so that we can create space for someone who can offer what we are looking for or needing.
Someone who can receive and hold our story, appreciate the power of storytelling and allow us to unravel.
What meaning have I made around this person not being able to show up for me or receive my story?
Let go of the meaning we give around people not showing
This piece is critical.
Unworthiness, not being good enough, I need to stay quiet. This usually stems from childhood conditioning patterns and not getting needs met and often trickle into how we may respond or react when we encounter a situation when someone is not there for us in a way that we need.
What makes storytelling so effective?
How can we explore the stories that we are telling ourselves? Approaching our story with curiosity and self-compassion is a starting point here.
We often approach our story from a place of harsh judgment and criticism, but shifting it to a gentle curiosity instead can make a world of difference.
Ex: Where might this story have come from? Where might I have learned this? I wonder how this story has kept me safe or served me? I wonder who I learned this story from? How far back does this story go?
Getting really curious about where this story came from and what meaning have I attached to it. Then once we have processed this, how can we reframe our negative thoughts to compassion and nurture and really slow things down.
At first, our nervous system is not going to like this
There may be an activation or unsettling here as we often crave what is familiar and comfortable and changing and/or unraveling out story can create a lot of discomfort.
Regulation and grounding work while exploring this is very important.
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Leanne Sawchuk is a Registered Psychotherapist, Art Therapist, and Speaker with an experience of more than 9 years. She supports people struggling with addictions, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, body image and trauma. She has graduated from the Toronto Institute of Relational Psychotherapy. She also has a psychology and fine arts degree from York University. Currently she is working on a book based on her personal route to self healing. Along with that she runs workshops on anxiety, body image, and eating disorders and has travelled around speaking publicly on these topics as well.