Every one of us creates a story that defines who we are. This is called our self narrative. Our self narrative consists of our history and our own take on it. Do we describe it in a way that is fair, kind and helpful to us or in a way that is unfair, unkind and hurtful?
As a Toronto therapist I help people suffering from depression symptoms, relationship problems, anxiety issues, stress management,anger management and traumatic memories, to name a few. What most of these people have in common is a negative self narrative.
The following is a self narrative from an alcoholic client:
I’m just a drunk. I’m such a weakling that every time I feel anxiety or self pity, I drink. I’m no good to my family and friends. My life is basically a failure.
The story that he tells to himself, over and over causes symptoms of depression, anxiety issues and produces low self esteem.
How could he change this story in an honest way that could help him?
As a child I was treated in a cruel manner by my alcoholic father. He shamed and hurt me in many ways. Later, I learned to cope like him by drinking. I can see from this that my alcohol addiction is a trauma rather than a weakness. Despite this, I have friends and a loving family. I am a good man who can overcome my alcohol addiction.
The change he made in his narrative is crucial. It alters his perspective in a manner that is both fair and positive. This narrative allows him the strength and the self esteem to overcome his alcohol dependency.
What is your self narrative? Does it help or hurt you?