Re-Authoring Our Lives

This weekend at Interchange Counseling Institute, Steve Bearman introduced us to Narrative Therapy. We learned how to help clients re-author their predominant stories by “thickening” marginalized stories. We often get caught in one story that dictates our perception,self-worth, and mood. Examining the cracks in this predominant story often lead to awareness of a more preferable story.

“What limits people is that they don’t have the fucking nerve or imagination to star in their own movie, let alone direct it. Yuck….It’s a wonderful time to be alive. As long as one has enough dynamite.”~Tom Robbins

Part of this weekend was writing and sharing our bio. When I wrote my bio, a book on my bookshelf that I haven’t read yet haunted my peripheral vision–Radical Honesty. I wrote my story leaving nothing out. When I shared this story with a group of three other counselors-in-training, I buried my face in the printed copy almost out of shame. I revealed how I had spent a large part of my adult life hurting others. How I had stabbed loved ones in the heart with my words. How all this hurt I brought into the world created a karmic tidal wave that almost drowned me. I ended with how hitting rock bottom allowed me to set my sights for the heavens.

When I finished reading, I peeked up to see three smiling faces. It felt like I had confessed all my sins to a compassionate God who had nothing but love for me. One of the group members gave me a hug. Another called me courageous. What I realized is that often the tragedy of our lives is actually a story of hope and redemption. Below are a few quotes from wise people who have a similar take on re-authoring.

  • “The Art of Suffering goes together with the Art of Happiness” “No Mud/No Lotus”~Thich Nhat Hanh
  • “Before the ‘truth sets you free’ it tends to make you miserable.”~Fr. Richard Rohr
  •  “Many of your greatest successes you thought were failures. And many of your greatest failures, you thought were successes.”~Marianne Williamson

To be sincere does not mean to be perfect. In fact,the very effort to be perfect is itself insincere, because it is a way of avoiding seeing yourself as you are right now. To be able and willing to see yourself as you are, with all of your imperfections and illusions, requires genuine sincerity and courage. If we are constantly trying to hide from ourselves, we will never be able to awaken from our illusion of self.~Adyashanti

I’m hoping you can re-author some of your stories. I feel a lot lighter since I did the exercise. Here are some suggestions:

  • Can you see part of your story as a preparation for a launch? Is a low point simply the loading for an acceleration towards the good, like stretching a rubber band right before you let it fly?
  • Is hitting rock bottom laying the foundations for a rebound in the right direction?
  • Is the tragedy of your life a glimpse into the comedy of life in general?
  • Is your need for “closure” an opening to a new way of loving or acceptance?

In no way do I want to disregard your story. In fact, narrative therapy does not try to erase the predominant story; instead it offers a new angle to view one’s life. A marginal story is meant to transcend and include the predominant story.

You’ve probably seen this before, but if you haven’t, ignore everything above and hit play.

Thank you for reading, smiling, and/or sharing.

Have you ever re-authored your predominant story? What did it do for you? Please share.


7 comments on “Re-Authoring Our Lives

  1. Alison says:

    Oh Kozo, I’ve re-authored every damn story that ever got in my way, or caused me suffering. Still at it 🙂 Making progress 🙂 Life is good. Sooooo much better than it was before I began to re write the internal dialogue.
    Hugs to you my friend

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      We are on such similar paths, Alison. I’m just a few miles behind you. 🙂 Yes, re-writing the internal dialogue is key. I just read something that said internal dialogue is ego pretending it is the voice of God. {{{hugs}}} Kozo

      • Alison says:

        Oh I love that – the internal dialogue is the ego pretending it’s the voice of God. What a great way to put it. I find it’s also more than just re-writing. I don’t always re-write. Sometimes I do, but more and more often I find I’m simply aware of it and find I have the freedom to choose to not believe in it. Byron Katie’s huge awakening was the blinding insight that when she believed her thoughts she suffered and when she didn’t she was happy. So she stopped believing, and believing in, her thoughts. Her favourite question is “Is that true?” I also remember Adya saying at a retreat I attended that at one point he questioned everything the mind came up with and discovered nothing was true. Such sweet freedom.
        (Confession – sometime soon I have to listen to that TED talk you have linked above – I’ve a feeling I’ll get a lot out of it).

  2. Indira says:

    Dear Kozo, I think one has to be very courageous to share his/her story with others. Most important but hard task is to forgive own self. I liked ‘ internal dialogue is ego pretending it is the voice of God.’ Our story is all about the choices we make. This is a lovely, thought provoking, helpful post.

  3. […] Re-Authoring Our Lives ( […]

  4. KM Huber says:

    Had not really considered the term “re-authoring” my life but certainly in the last three years that is exactly what I have done. I had to look at every moment to see what it gave me. The more I looked, the more I understood, and although there are dark, dark moments, they no longer haunt but occasionally teach. Once again, my friend, you demonstrate your courage, and we are inspired.

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      Learning from the dark, dark moments. So true, Karen. I’m finding gratitude for my falls and short-comings. After all, if I hadn’t of fallen, I wouldn’t be blogging and learning from wise friends like you. {{{Hugs}} Kozo

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