Our Past as Stories

As I embarked on my journey to become a life coach and positive psychology practitioner, one profound realisation stood out: the power of the thoughts we hold about ourselves, particularly those rooted in our past.

Initially, I perceived my personal narrative as an unchangeable truth, a reflection based solely on memories and interpretations that seemed set in stone. However, during my transformation, key turning points helped me see these narratives for what they were—interpretations, not facts.

Brooke Castillo’s teachings at the Life Coach School profoundly resonated with me, simplifying the complex process of narrative transformation. My own transformative experience in the field, influenced by narrative coaching and Cognitive Behavioural Coaching (CBC), taught me that these narratives are often flexible interpretations, not absolute truths.

I learned to recognise the nurturing that occurred through various experiences of my life, which allowed me to appreciate who I have become both because of and in spite of the hardships, bumps, and imperfections. This realisation allowed me to embrace the power of rewriting my story, seeing myself as shaped by my experiences but not confined by them.

The Power of Narrative

Our pasts often feel like fixed narratives, sequences of events that dictate who we are today. Influential thinkers like Eckhart Tolle challenge us to view our past differently. He posits, “the past has no power over the present moment” (Tolle, 2008), suggesting that the only power our past holds is the power we assign through our current thoughts and the meanings we derive from them. This perspective invites us to see our past not as immutable facts but as a series of interpreted realities—stories we tell ourselves that can be rewritten.

Transforming Our Understanding

Is it truly possible to change our past? Not the actual events, but our understanding and interpretation of them. Brooke Castillo (2014) emphasises that by reinterpreting our past, we can fundamentally change how we view and feel about it today, thus reshaping our present and future. This reinterpretation is a liberation, allowing us to select narratives that empower rather than constrain.

The Role of Positive Psychology, CBC, and Narrative Coaching

Narrative coaching, as a mindful and experiential approach, centres on our personal stories—how they shape our beliefs and behaviours and how we can alter them to unlock new possibilities (Drake, 2018). It engages us in a process of deep reflection, helping us identify and rewrite limiting narratives into empowering ones. Similarly, Cognitive Behavioural Coaching helps us to recognise and challenge negative thought patterns and behaviours, providing a framework for developing healthier, more constructive ways of thinking and behaving (Neenan & Palmer, 2014).

Positive Psychology complements these approaches by focusing on enhancing well-being and harnessing personal strengths rather than merely remedying weaknesses.

Practical Steps to Reinterpret Your Past: An Enriched Approach

To effectively rewrite the narratives of your past, consider these steps:

  1. Identify Limiting Beliefs: Begin by recognising stories that limit you, such as “I always fail in relationships.”
  2. Reframe Your Narrative: Actively choose to focus on aspects of your past that demonstrate resilience and learning. For example, reframe past relationship failures as learning opportunities that have taught you what you truly value in a partnership.
  3. Embrace a New Perspective: View these past experiences as stepping stones rather than obstacles. Reflect on how each experience has contributed to the strengths and wisdom you possess today.

Engagement and Reflection

Reflect on your own life stories and consider how altering these narratives could enhance your future. Asking yourself powerful questions can initiate this transformative process:

  • What narratives about your past are you holding onto?
  • How do these narratives affect your present and your aspirations for the future?
  • What new stories would you like to create and live by?

Elevating Your Journey with Professional Insight

Rewriting our past narratives is more than an exercise in positive thinking—it’s a transformative process that can lead to significant personal growth and fulfilment.

If you’re ready to embark on this journey but unsure where to start, consider reaching out for personalised coaching. Together, we can explore your narratives, uncover hidden strengths, and set you on a path to a brighter, self-empowered future.

Sincerely yours,

Dr. Sophie

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References

Castillo, B. (Host). (2014, November 27). How to Change Your Past [Audio podcast episode]. In The Life Coach School Podcast. The Life Coach School. https://thelifecoachschool.com/podcast/33/

Drake, D. (2018). Narrative Coaching. In E. Cox, T. Bachkirova, & D. Clutterbuck, The Complete Handbook of Coaching (3rd ed.). SAGE.

Neenan, M., & Palmer, S. (2011). Cognitive Behavioural Coaching in Practice: An Evidence Based Approach. Taylor and Francis.

Tolle, E. (2008). The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment. New Park Publishing.

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