What are the stories, spoken or unspoken, that you tell about your family? Who is the leader, the victim, the villain? Who just can’t seem to get their life together, and who runs circles around everyone else?
Humans are storytellers. It’s how we make sense of the world. But this skill isn’t always rooted in reality. It often fails to see the bigger picture. Conveniently, it also can overlook the role we play in our relationships.
As a therapist, I try to help people see how these narratives affect how they treat others. Because in relationships, we often act based on the anxiety of the past instead of the reality of the present. Or we assume we know what people need, instead of considering what they really need.
Here are some common stories we tell about family members:
- She’s too sensitive to hear the truth.
- Our son needs a lot of extra help.
- Don’t bother Dad; he works hard and is tired.
- Mom is only happy if she’s in charge.
These stories can be useful but limiting. The challenge is to zoom out and see how the entire family participates in the pattern. To shift from storytelling to systems thinking.(more…)