Revising unstoried possibilities

Another change model worth sharing comes from the field of "narrative therapy". In this model, we are trapped inside dominant narratives congruent with our upbringing and successful rebellions from family systems. We live out the same old story -- day after day. We cannot change because the level to be changed is deeper than our conscious choices and decisions. We act within prescribed limitations and assume "this is as good as it gets".

Any dominant narrative is "problem-saturated". It captivates us because it is loaded with stories of what does not work, what cannot happen and what always goes wrong. We argue for those limitations that we learned from "the school of hard knocks". We know from experience not to think differently, assume otherwise or expect a change. We're convinced we've discovered the facts of life that cannot be revised without becoming foolish, naive or overly-optimistic. We know how to be realistic and play by those rules.

There are other possibilities to be lived that exist outside our dominant narrative. They remain inconceivable or hypothetical while they are kept "unstoried". There are held as an idea in isolation from our personal history. They do not make "narrative sense" of our lives. There's no way to be a character in the prescribed scenario, explain our motives with a congruent back story, or act out a different possibility. The one or two times we experienced that exceptional possibility, we think we were "out of character", "out of control" or "out of our minds".

We successfully adopt and live out these exceptional possibilities when they become storied. We complicate our character identity to include this. We see incidents in our past history that lead up to this. We imagine how people in our network are delighted and appreciative of this change in us. We foresee desirable outcomes from acting this way in our world. We respond to opposition, challenges and confrontations from our confidence in this alternative story. We convey that we're living from a different set of premises, or to the beat of a different drummer.

When we see our lives as stories, we welcome the drama of life into it. We value the antagonists that provoke us to solidify our new outlook. We enjoy the setbacks that occur when we regress to our old story. They serve as reminders to catch ourselves falling for temptations, old habits and patterned reactions. We get the sense we are really the author of our lives and free of those captivating dominant narratives.

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