"Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire." — Catherine of Siena
So what if you suspect you are living the wrong story? How do you change your Defining Narrative?
As I mentioned in the last post, changing your defining narrative is not easy. After all, you've lived into your current defining narrative for a long time. Its roots go deep and won't be easily uprooted. In addition, there's a good deal of fear to contend with, because changing your defining story means letting go of who you thought you were, and that's a frightening thing to do, even when you deeply want to make the change.
But, though difficult, it's not impossible. Here are three ways a defining narrative can be changed. There may be other ways I'm not aware of, but here are the ones I've either experienced personally or seen work effectively with others:
1. Experiencing a powerful New Beginning, one that effectively overrides the old narrative and launches you into a new Story. One way to change the defining story of your life is to experience a new and radically different Fresh Start—one that is powerful enough to redefining the story you are living. This might be, for example, an intense spiritual conversion experience, a serious injury or medical prognosis that inspires you to a different life path, or some other significant and intense "shock" to your current reality.
For example, one of the reasons I think the book Eat, Pray, Love was such a hit was because Elizabeth Gilbert (the main character in the story) essentially went on a quest to experience a dramatic New Beginning for her life by taking a year off and traveling the world alone.
This is also part of the beauty of the Christian faith tradition, because through a personal encounter with Jesus (a life-altering New Beginning), we are invited to leave our old lives behind and step into a new and larger Story — "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come" (2 Corinthians 5:17). The experience is literally called being "born again."
2. Working with a professional counselor or narrative coach to take a deep dive into the current Story you are living—then, with great care, overwriting it with one that better reflects the actual truth of who you are. This is deeply rewarding work, but it also requires patience and courage. Coaching and Counseling take slightly different approaches to this kind of narrative work. If you'd like to find out more about narrative coaching, drop me a line. I'd be happy to talk you through it. If you'd prefer to explore your story with a counselor, one I highly recommend is Chris Bruno and his team at Restoration Counseling. They are excellent at what they do.
3. Going thru a Story-changing ritual, or ritualized experience. A powerful enough ritual, if done appropriately in the presence of the right witnesses, can shift your defining narrative and launch you on a new path. A few great examples of these within the Christian tradition include The Crucible Project / Crucible Women, Men at the Cross / Women at the Cross, and our own BraveHeart Intensive / Destiny Project. Or, if you prefer a secular experience, I recommend checking out The Mankind Project / Woman Within.
"For you shall know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free." — Jesus