To change your life, start talking about it differently
Imagine that at the age of 12 years you have moved to another city. You went to a new school, and there for the first time they began to tease. How do you describe this period of life now? As one of the many cases when everything went wrong? Or as difficult times that ended well? It turns out that much depends on this.
In the 1950s, in British and American television, the transfer of this is Your Life was very popular ("This is your life"). In her, the presenter told his guest to his biography, looking into the Red Book, where dates were recorded, key events and memories, pre-collected by the Creators of the transfer. Every of us is conscious there is such a red book of self-life. And often we fill it, without even noticing it.
Personal narratives (stories about themselves) exist regardless of whether we pay attention to them or not. They make meaning to our existence and form the basis of self-consciousness.
As the Empirical Structure of Narrative Identity writes: The Initial Big Three Psychologist Kate McLean (Kate Mclean), "Stories that we tell about ourselves reveal, create and support us for life". In his works, she explores the fascinating idea that these personal narratives, although we constantly change them and complement them, contain stable elements that open our inner essence – the fundamental sides of our personality.
One of the colleagues Macllin, Pioneer in the field of psychology of the personality of Dan Makadams (Dan McADams), wrote The Psychology of Life Stories about it almost 20 years ago. According to him, people differ from each other not only by the traits, but also how they build their narratives.
These personal stories have key aspects of The Incremental Validity of Narrative Identity in Predicting Well-Being, the differences in which each of us: agent, community, valence, positive and negative sense formation and other. To identify the most important of them, Macklin with colleagues held several studies The Empirical Structure of Narrative Identity: The Initial Big Three, using about 1,000 participants.
They covered a certain episode of their lives or told one-piece history, summarizing their lives. After careful analysis, scientists came to the conclusion that there are three main aspects characterizing the personal narrative of each person.
- Motivational and emotional topics. This aspect reflects the independence of the narrator and its connectedness with others, as well as how much of its history is positive or negative.
- Autobiographical reasoning. Show how much we think about events from our narrative, do you mean in what happened and notice whether the relationship between key events and how we have changed.
- Structure. This is a connectivity of history from the point of view of dates, facts and context, which remains a stable Consistency and Stability of Narrative Coherence: An Examination of Personal Narrative As A Domain of Adult Personality for a long time.
But personal narrative – not just what we say to other people. It affects Narrative Identity and Eudaimonic Well-Being on our mental condition and general well-being. People who are more often telling positive stories ("I lost work, but I went to another sphere, and what I am doing now, I like much more," "I was teased in a new school, but there I met the best friend"), Usually more satisfied with your life as a whole and less suffer from mental health problems.
The same applies to people who feel an active person in their history, as well as to those who show a greater sense of community with others. For example, often includes episodes with close and friends or joint hobbies.
Naturally, the question arises: is it possible to change yourself and your life by changing the personal narrative? It is the narrative therapy that helps people rethink their personal history in a more positive key. Remember that the very red book in your head is a draft, and not the final version.
You can change your story.
Researchers have come to this conclusion, by conducting an experiment TELLING BETTER STORIES: Competence-Building Narrative Themes Increase Adolescent Persistence and Academic Achievement with "reachable". They asked participants to describe the situation when the failure changed them for the better. Compared to the control group, which did not give such a task, the subjects considered themselves more purposeful and the test questions answered that they always completed the started. And this remained even a few weeks later.
"These results not only prove that personal narrative can be changed, but also suggests that changes in how people think and talk about the important events of their lives affect their life in the future," write the authors of the study in the conclusion.
Philosophers not in vain always said that we create ourselves and our reality. Typically, psychotherapists use this principle to help a person get rid of some definite fear. But this approach can be applied to the whole life in general to become the author of the story you want to write.