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Narrative Excavation – Part 1

 What are the narratives you believe about yourself?
What are the narratives you believe about yourself?

Do fishes see the water in which they live?

Before you answer this question, allow us to take you through a scenario.

Imagine yourself walking into a new job on the first day. You feel the butterflies but you have to stay calm and prove yourself worthy. Your boss starts to assign you tasks, and you get to meet with your new co-workers. Everything works out smoothly, that is, until you finally screw something up. What you did just ruined the routine of the office. Your boss’s face turned purple, and your co-workers are giving you weird looks. Now you have to do something to make up for the mistake. Without any professional instructions, you made the wrong move. Now the situation has turned even worse, and everyone has to revolve around you to fix your problem. Not knowing how you can help, you keep apologizing to everyone “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry!” Your brain completely shuts down and you pray for your day to end right away.

“I don’t belong here.”

“Maybe I should quit this job before I get fired.”

“Why am I so dumb?”

“She thinks I’m useless.”

“I wasn’t born to socialize.”

Thoughts are flooding over your poor little brain while you attempt to fall asleep at night. At the end you only slept for 3 hours and had to wake up for another day. Unwillingly, life goes on.

 If you also happen to be in the crazy society that we live in today, you must have experienced something similar to this before. First of all, let’s label such an experience as a traumatic event. Now, everyone has a software named “narrative” that’s been running in the back of your brain since you were born.

Narrative is essentially a story we tell ourselves about events, and a way of understanding, describing, or explaining experience.

It helps us to navigate through our daily lives. For example, when we see a do not cross sign (the hand that halts us all), we choose not to cross the street because we will most likely get hit by a car. “Ignoring the hand signal is dangerous” is a narrative that we tell ourselves when we are about to cross the street. In most cases, narratives work in our favor so that we know where we park our cars, where we leave our keys, etc. Without narratives, it’d be impossible to survive, and we’d act like a new born baby. However, narratives could also work against us. Negative narratives we tell ourselves about ourselves in response to traumatic events will eventually take over our brain and start to manipulate our behaviors. During and after a traumatic event, it’s when the negative narratives are most active in our brain. “Why am I so dumb?” Such thoughts could potentially paralyze us for the rest of our life if we do not have any potent tools to deal with them.

In theory, it should be easy to identify the negative narratives.

In reality, however, most people go through their daily routines without paying attention to these narratives.

Over time, they turn into emotional feelings such as anger, sadness, fear, and so on. We start to lose control of our feelings, and we wonder why we become so emotional and depressed.

To help you understand this better, you are like a fish living in water. Fish do not see the water in which they live. Just like how we do not see air even though we’ve been breathing air since the start. Once a fish sees water, it will never be the same anymore.

For the assignment, we would like you to start building some awareness of the negative talks that you give yourself especially when there is a traumatic event. See if you can catch them right on the spot, or maybe afterwards. Write them down. In the upcoming blogs, we will introduce a few concrete tools for you to work on how to identify negative narratives and categorize them so that you will start to see patterns.

Step one: awareness.

Interested in receiving some guidance in developing a practice to break through these narratives? Book an intro with us below!


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