The most effective way to foster awareness is by writing down our stories
Brené Brown Rising Strong
Brené Brown, researcher and writer on shame and vulnerability, talks about the stories we make up – the stories we tell ourselves to deal with painful, shameful and hurtful events and interactions, to protect ourselves and make sense of our lives. Sometimes we get stuck in these stories, in our first defensive reactions and interpretations; they may not be accurate or thoughtful but they will often feel familiar. We then often tell those stories to others, looking for confirmation of our way of seeing things and reinforcing our narrative of the self.
Brown invites us to get curious about the stories we tell ourselves and in order to do this …
we get to write down the uncensored first drafts, the unedited narratives of our lives:
The only way I can get anything written at all is to write really, really, shitty first drafts. The first draft is the child’s draft, where you let it all pour out, romp all over the place, knowing that no one is going to see it….
Anne Lamott Bird by Bird (quoted in Rising Strong)
Brown refers to these as SFDs (coyly suggesting you change the adjective if you need to) or confabulations, often honestly told. But the unconscious storytelling which becomes the default can trap us and limit the way we live in the world.
So when we’ve captured the SFD we can begin to reflect on the story we are telling ourselves.
Journal prompt: Write your SFD for 15 minutes without editing (set a timer to provide the containment – this ensures that you will not be sucked under by any emerging waves of emotion).
Read it through and see what you notice – add margin notes and ! or ? as appropriate. Then give yourself some feedback in writing. For this reflective feedback write you can use Brené Brown’s 3 questions:
- What more do I need to learn and understand about the situation?
- What more do I need to learn and understand about the other people in the story?
- What more do I need to learn and understand about myself? (Rising Strong p.79)
When it is done with courage and commitment, this practice can open the possibility of telling of new stories, finding new endings and meanings, instead of having to re-live old patterns.