We make meaning of life through stories
Narrative therapy centres on the idea that we make meaning in life through stories - the ones people tell us, the ones we tell others and the ones we tell ourselves. These shape everything from our identity, to our values, to the choices we make. Our experiences influence which stories we believe in.
When certain events happen to us over and over again, we connect them in a storyline and draw conclusions. These may be: "I'm a failure", "I'm unlovable", "I'm not good enough". These are not facts; these are stories, and we can change them.
Social expectations: stories that tell us who we "should" be
Stories that have the effect of making us feel inadequate, powerless, unloved, undeserving and so on are called "dominant narratives". They're socially and culturally constructed and they represent dominant ideas around how we "should" live our lives, generally according to things such as gender, age, race, socio-economic status, education and abilities.
Dominant narratives can also be seen as social expectations. They tell us how to be the "best" kind of person - the best mother, man, entrepreneur, artist, activist, influencer, and so on.
Bringing our preferred narratives to life
In narrative conversations people are supported to tell their stories in ways that honour their skills, values, knowledges and actions. For many marginalised communities, these insider knowledges are often devalued and dismissed. Bombarded with dominant narratives daily from social media, our family, surrounding communities, workplace, mass media and more, we can lose touch with the wisdoms we've had all along.
Narrative therapy is a respectful, non-blaming approach to conversations that centres people as experts in their own lives. In narrative therapy we unearth forgotten wisdoms and expand on them.