When You're Not the Author

Helping clients explore and retell their stories involves walking through some painful things sometimes. Fleshing out the roles others have played in our lives--and the stories we told ourselves about that--makes us aware of how we have impacted others' stories. It can be especially hard when someone we love has made devastating choices, and we can only help but wonder and worry about the effects of our own actions.


These stories we tell ourselves about the events in our lives are just as impactful as the events themselves, and sometimes more so. And what can be so frustrating about being a parent, guardian, older sibling, etc., is that we can't control the stories the people we love choose to tell and carry with them.


It's easy for us to forget what it's like being a kid. Children have no experience to draw from, and in our formative years we struggle to put events into context (something we've never had), and interpret their meaning. It's a job children are terribly ill-suited for, and yet still have to do.


Sometimes the most harmful inner narratives can form out of the most "normal" circumstances. You can guide a child's choices, their self-talk, but ultimately you can't author the tale they tell themselves, or decide the path that story sends them down. We can, to some degree, mitigate how our adult struggles impact them, but our lack of power to protect them fully can be a fearful thing.


One of the most beneficial things you can do for the kids in your life is to learn to hold your own story with compassion, to model self-awareness, self-discipline, and self-forgiveness. Children don't need perfect role-models; they need people who are committed to being their best selves and accepting themselves along the way.


And one of the hardest parts of that is learning to let go of that which isn't ours to choose.


If you'd like to learn more about how to hold your unique story with compassion and acceptance, I'd love to help.


- Mike Ensley, Counselor

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