• Roya Dedeaux

Narrative therapy and your employees

I am trained as a narrative therapist. There are thousands of hours of excellent writing on the subject, so let me summarize briefly --

I believe that each person has a story they tell themselves, which can usually get boiled down to an internalized statement, such as, "I'm an anxious person," "bad things always happen to me," "everything in my life is such a struggle," "people are out to get me."

The therapist is in

These brief self-stories do not always serve us well. It colors the lens we view the world through. When we believe, for example, that people are always out to get us - then that's how we interpret even innocuous behavior. When people bring this kind of self-story into the workplace, it can cause a lot of issues.

In narrative therapy, we work to add "richness" to the story. We look at the possible origins of these messages - who helped us form these beliefs about ourselves? Where did we pick up on the first bits of evidence when we were young? What sorts of messages did we internalize? We then look at places where there exceptions - was there ever a time when we didn't feel or act this way? We pull in broader pieces of evidence, and we add layers to our stories. We add other qualities, messages, and in the process of doing so we expand our capabilities and highlight our strengths. Instead of living with a narrow story like, "I'm always anxious" we now have a story that says, "I often feel anxious AND I have overcome in many times," or "when bad things happen to me I have the ability to choose how I deal with it."

People bring these stories with them wherever they go, because they are a part of them. If you have a building full of people stuck in negative self-stories, that's how they interact with coworkers, customers, vendors, and supervisors. It also impacts how they see their own potential. If their self-story is about how they always fail, then how will they take the steps to succeed? It's in every businesses self-interest to help their employees work through their personal narrative, to add awareness, richness, and expansiveness to how they view themselves and their role and capabilities at work.

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