We ALL Have Stuff, and We ALL Have a Story Worth Sharing

It can be tempting to discredit our hurts–and even our victories–especially when we compare them to other people.

Yeah, I have a good job, but I’m not as successful as “so-and-so.”

Yeah, I am stressed out, but my life isn’t as hard as “so-and-so” so I “shouldn’t” complain.

When I hear people dismiss their hurts, I try to create space where they can validate it. Often when we are hurting, we don’t always want someone to fix it, we just want them to listen and validate what we are experiencing. There is a valid reason we are feeling this way, so lean into it.

What is this hurt trying to tell me?

This is part if processing our own story. I encourage people to write out a timeline of events in their life, both positive and negative. Anything that has impacted and shaped us. It can be helpful to get it. all. out. Especially in a timeline, where we can review it with space, time, and new perspective to see where core beliefs about ourselves and our worlds have come from. In a timeline, then we can create a new cohesive narrative of our story.

Research tells us that people who are able to create a cohesive narrative of their life story report more successful relationships, self-confidence, performance, and overall enjoyment in life.

-Dr. Joshua Straub in his book Safe House on creating a emotionally healthy family

Understanding Your “Stuff”

I have created a worksheet for reflection journaling with clients called “Understanding Your Stuff” that views different areas of how “stuff”– our hurts stresses, frustrations, etc– comes out in our lives and impacts how we process our story. This is inspired from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy book Mind Over Mood. Some of this reflection work we do in counselling together includes:

Understanding My “Stuff”

  1. Environment/ Life Changes/ Situation
  2. Physical Reactions in my Body
  3. Mood, Emotion or Feeling
  4. Behaviours
  5. Thoughts/Images/Memories

All of these areas in our lives are interconnected. Luckily, we do not have to change everything, or all at once. The good news is that changes in one of these areas can influence change in other areas!

Identifying these areas helps us to understand and overcome our “stuff. Because we all have “stuff”! This is important in processing and writing our own story. For example, we will just look at the first area:

  1. Environment/Life Changes/ Situation: 
  • What recent changes have there been in my life (positive or negative)?
  • What have been the most stressful experiences for me in the past year? 3 years? 5 years? In childhood? Over my life? 

Try to make a timeline of your major life events (good and bad). We will use this to combat fragmented memories that are unprocessed and continue the anxiety cycle. By making a more cohesive narrative of stringing your story together, you can rewrite and own your story. You can also choose different perspectives of how you remember things. This could include:

  • Taking power back
  • Being able to reflect with the gift of perspective
  • Identify how a belief or behavior came to be, and see where it no longer serves you in the present
  • Speak kindly to yourself
  • Say to yourself what you needed to hear at those times
  • Acknowledging to yourself “good job” or “I am proud of you”

We all have a story worth sharing. I’d be honoured to hear yours.

Remember:

Your story, your hurts, your strengths are unique to you as your fingerprint.


No one else can tell your story


Owning our story and loving ourselves in that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do”

Brene Brown

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