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What’s Your Story?


Humans are natural storytellers. Stories help us make meaning of our lives by organising what happens to us into a story. We all have a story, or a ‘self-narrative’ as I will refer to it. Our self-narrative is the story of who we are and our lives.

In the words of the philiospher Epictetus, “It is not events that disturb people, it is their judgements concerning them”. In other words, it is not the event itself, but how we perceive it or the meaning we take from it. How we perceive events in our lives and the meaning we take from them determines our self-narrative. Our self-narrative then determines how we feel and ultimately our happiness.

Have you ever considered whether your self-narrative is helpful to you, or holding you back? Is your story a positive one, reflecting your strengths and resilience? Or does your story fuel a number negative beliefs about yourself, and make you feel powerless and unable to change.

Perhaps you have decided that 2023 is not just a new year, but an opportunity to become a new you. But how do you go about changing and becoming a new you? The answer: change your self-narrative and re-write your story…

Cognitive behavioural modification 

Cognitive behavioural modification (CBM) is an approach to CBT that aims to change negative self-talk (i.e. your inner voice) and self-narrative into something positive. We know that negative self-talk and self-narrative reflects in our behaviour, e.g., negative thoughts lead to unhelpful behaviours (and usually more negative outcomes). CBM aims to change a person’s self-narrative from negative to positive, by focusing on their resilience and strengths.

CBM was founded by the psychologist and Professor of Psychology, Donald Meichenbaum. One of Meichenbaum’s main interests was in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He wanted to understand why only 1 in 4 people develop PTSD after experiencing the same traumatic event. Meichembaum found that an individual’s self-narrative was the biggest predictor of whether or not they will go on to develop PTSD. For those individuals that don’t develop PTSD, their stories are ones of resilience and strength. Meichenbaum worked extensively with clients with PTSD, helping them to develop “healing stories” of strength and resilience.

What’s your self-narrative?

What is the story that you tell yourself? Consider what you tell yourself (and others) about you. Are those things in fact true? Do you believe a number of negative things about yourself? For example, do you believe you are not good enough, loveable enough, or strong enough? Do you tell yourself that you will always be a smoker because you are too addicted? Do you tell yourself that you will never be a certain size because you just aren’t built that way and don’t have the willpower? Or do you tell yourself that you will always suffer from anxiety because of your past? These are all examples of negative self-talk and self-narrative.

Your self-talk and self-narrative is so important in determining how you feel, and ultimately what you are and are not able to do. When we tell ourselves negative things about ourselves, we start to believe them to be true. The more we believe them to be true, the more we believe that we cannot change and that these things are fundamentally out of our control. That’s where you become stuck. Because why would you do anything to change, if you truly believed that change is not possible? But change is always possible..

Changing your story

One thing I notice when I meet a client for the first time is that they nearly always have a number of unhelpful beliefs that keep them stuck. Through the therapy we work to let go of those limiting beliefs and unhelpful thoughts, and work to start changing their self-narrative.

Think about how different your life would be if you told yourself more positive things, and if your self-narrative was one of strength and resilience. Think how different it would be if you believed in yourself, and your ability to change and re-write your story. The famous quote from the philosopher Virgil really summarises how important positive self-talk and self-belief is – “They can because they believe they can”.

Re-write your story with hypnotherapy

Hypnosis is a really effective way of changing the stories that we tell ourselves. Hypnosis can help you to change your self-narrative and re-write your story. If you are interested to see how cognitive behavioural hypnotherapy can help you, then book a free consultation now. You can also follow me on Facebook if you found this article helpful. 

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