Retelling our own Story
Living with a deep seated and long-held belief that we are not worthy or good-enough can be a daily challenge that often feels overwhelming and exhausting. If we feel we are not good-enough then the stories we tell ourselves about who we are, are unlikely to be life-affirming. And yet, if we can tell our stories differently then we can transform our experience of life as it has been and life as it can be.
David Denborough1 has written a very accessible book for those who want to help themselves and for therapists to help their clients tell their stories differently.
He presents some gentle and affirming activities specifically created for (and some have been created by) survivors of abuse or trauma.
The activities are designed to re-resource the reader, helping them identify their own strengths and survival strategies. As the title of the book says, to retell that story and transform experience.
Often survival strategies remain unnoticed and unacknowledged. However, these strategies are a powerful endorsement of our unique ability to adapt and survive in very difficult, perhaps terrifying, life circumstances. They are evidence of the strengths and personal characteristics we already have and that we can call on to use again and again in life.
The ways others have used the activities to help themselves are included in the book and this offers the reader a sense of being accompanied.
Denborough suggests that the activities could be carried out with a friend: someone who will provide affirmation of your strengths by offering you new perspectives, noticing different resonances in your life and sharing what you mean to them.
Many of the activities are built on metaphors: some from nature, such as the Tree of Life and plotting our life journey – past, present and future - as a river; others are based on positive aspects of social living such as Team Me.
For me the most powerful message in the book is: You are not the problem; the Problem is the problem.
These activities are wonderful at helping us to re-resource ourselves and tell our stories in new and inspirational, yes! Inspirational, ways.
1 Retelling The Stories of Our lives Everyday Narrative Therapy To Draw Inspiration and Transform Experience, by David Denborough