The Art of Relating

By Christine Kniffen, MSW, LCSW

Reinventing Your Life

I always like to say, “The great thing about life is that you can reinvent who you are anytime you want”. Fortunately, we don’t have to continue our current negative self-narrative that we have carefully cultivated through the years. This is the negative self-narrative that is associated with lots of no good feelings. These feelings, left unattended, grow like a cancer in us. These feelings in turn now affect our behavior in how we react to life, the level of goals we strive to attain and so much more. These feelings stop us from becoming our true selves. There are three main tasks to complete in order to be able to reinvent your life. You must make the decision to reinvent your life, you must apply action to the process and you need to become aware of how you perpetuate this negative self-narrative in order to stop it.

So, step one seems like a no-brainer in telling you to make the decision to reinvent your life. Are you someone that can’t seem to leave a toxic relationship? Do you continue to stay in relationships that make you feel bad about yourself or rejected on a regular basis? I speak at length regarding the idea of willingness in regards to ending the exhausting cycle of dysfunction. You love him, so you can’t imagine how you can just let go. I tell clients that there is a difference between “am I willing to let go” and “do I know how to let go”. Most people then admit that they have been equally unwilling to let go as they have felt that they simply don’t know how to let go. Once you find your willingness to make the decision to re-write your personal narrative, then you need to apply action.

Nothing changes without action. You are like a stuck wheel and we have to get you rolling and moving through life by your own inertia. Counseling and therapy won’t change anything for you if you don’t apply action. Let’s say your negative self-narrative tells you that you are the person who is unable to set boundaries with others. As a result, you may feel walked on or put upon by other people. Part of the problem with setting boundaries is that people can’t handle the reaction they get from the other side when they have tried. No amount of talking is going to suddenly make it easy for you to start seeing boundaries. You simply have to apply action to the process. Start to set boundaries and it will become more and more comfortable. Your real problem is that you just don’t have any practice at this skill and have made the idea of action/consequences much scarier in your mind than what usually pans out in real life. After applying action to the process the next step involves becoming aware of how you perpetuate the negative self-narrative.

Your negative image in reinforced through your negative self-talk. It is important to become aware of what you say to yourself in order to catch it at the moment and begin to make changes. Okay, so you’re the person who always messes up every opportunity you have been given. This is part of the personal narrative which you say to yourself over and over. Now, you believe it and therefore you don’t expect anything better from yourself. And, if you don’t expect more from yourself how is anyone else supposed to either? This is the part where I help clients to reinvent their life by re-writing the personal narrative. Catch yourself saying the negative statements, insert a properly nuanced substitute (this is where I come in) and begin to rewrite your self-narrative while enjoying the relief of the accompanying new feelings or worth.

In working with clients in my office we work to identify, track and ultimately reinvent your self-narrative so as to not continually reinforce it. This new year allow yourself the opportunity to reinvent your life. Change who you are and others will see you differently as well.

Christine Kniffen, LCSW is a Therapist and Relationship Coach in private practice. Call today for a free consultation 314-374-8396 or visit www.ChristineKniffen.com. Now Accepting Insurance