Some Thoughts on Therapy (Inspired by recent reading) –by Jim Nolan
Narrative Therapy: The stories we tell ourselves become our reality, and cause the experience we have in the world–the emotional experience we have. It becomes how we answer the question “So how’s it going?” Similar to CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or Ellis’s Rational Emotive Therapy), but instead of our thoughts creating our own reality, it is our Stories, sometimes seemingly carved in stone, that create our experience of and in the world. “Problem Stories pretend to be the truth, but they are not.” James Hillman calls them “the myths we can no longer see as myths.” We cannot see them as myths anymore, but only as “the way things are.” If you are getting a lot of secondary gains from running a story, even a negative one, or painful one, or one that causes you a lot of problems long term, though you get sympathy short term, then the Stories are not serving you. Time to change the Narrative. The Bible, Shakespeare, Abraham-Hicks, New Thought—many traditions and lineages have taught variations of CBT and Narrative Therapy/Practice forever, not calling it that.
If your story is running negative as a general rule, this pulls in the Law of Attraction thinking, which has it that whatever you focus your attention on, especially with strong emotion, becomes what you attract more of in your life. “The better it gets, the better it gets; the worse it gets, the worse it gets.” Like attracts like. That which is like unto itself is drawn. Birds of a feather flock together. We know this stuff in our everyday idioms.
So, if you run a Victim Story (or any of the Stories or Games discussed in “Games People Play” by Berne), you are more likely to attract/create Victim Stories, and manifest those in your life. They work for you, somehow, odd as it may look to an outsider, or you would not run those narratives.
Ken Keyes, in Handbook of Higher Consciousness, put it this way (I always thought this was a kind way to language this one): “You are getting legitimate emotional needs met in an unskilled fashion.” Even the craziest looking behavior is getting a legitimate emotional need met, though it is causing ten more problems in its wake. Heroin makes you feel great when you have strong emotional needs, but the aftermath and the addiction may ruin your life. The Victim Story gets you a lot of attention and sympathy and expressions of “Ain’t it awful” and “Oh, those rotten ones that did that you you!!” But it keeps you from self-empowerment, which is fundamentally what all therapy is about, or should be.
Spiritually-minded? When we are running a narrative that our experience is caused by external forces, or agents, or You, you rotten son-of-a-gun, then this narrative leaves little room to Resource from Source, or from any Higher Power, or Higher Inner You. The “cause”, the “agent” that is responsible for our feelings or experience are explained, narratived, understood to be, OUTSIDE you, so YOU have no power over changing them, or making them go away. I cannot feel better until YOU, or Monsanto, or Mercury Retrograde, or the Republican Party, or my Mother, or whatever, changes their dirty low-down ways. That is not at all empowering—it places all of the power OUTSIDE me, leaving me with only my Victim Story, and my only solace will come from gathering sympathy from those I can convince that “Ain’t it awful?”, and them telling me how undeserving I am of such horrible treatment at the hands of the universe, wonderful guy that I am. Spirit has no door through which to pass when we are running narratives that are both carved in stone, and hold an external agent as the cause of our experience.
Not sure if this is helpful to anybody, but it was to me. Tying together lines of thought helps me see experiences and therapeutic possibilities from multiple harmonious, complementary perspectives at once, and that, for me, is a good thing.
By the way, much of this goes for Therapy, Coaching, and Clinical Supervision as well…