Power of Labels
“Once you label me you negate me”
Narrative Therapy focuses on the power of storytelling. When you think about it for a moment you will realize there is a story that has been told about you since you were a very young child. The people around you have painted a limited picture of who you are. Some labels are based on personality traits from your first few months of life like being colicky or even-tempered. You were not even consciously aware of yourself, yet those actions still carry weight for the narrative of who you are.
Sometimes others feel compelled to project their own unwanted or unrecognized personality traits onto an object outside of themselves and you become the receptacle. Maybe you made a bad first impression at a new school or a new job and it stuck. You might not like your role and how you are perceived but you play it nonetheless. Like an actor faithful to your lines you become what other people have told you all your life that you are. Your nuclear family, school teachers, neighbors, religious leaders, politicians, philosophers, psychologists, friends, and acquaintances have all played their parts in the creation and maintenance of the dominant story about who you are.
Think about some of the labels that are used to describe people in our society. Jock, cheerleader, nerd, genius, businessman, housewife, bad tempered. The list is endless. These labels represent a fraction of who a person really is yet come to act as a total describer, leaving little room for alternate narratives or a broad worldview. When you buy into a label that limits you and believe the dominant story told about you, the fullness of your self is negated. You never get the chance to develop your unique character traits, to unfold your full potential, or explore talents that are waiting in the wings. You miss the opportunity to define yourself based upon who you know you are deep down.
In narrative therapy we deconstruct all of the ways that a dominant, unwanted myth about you has been created and maintained. Then we begin constructing a preferred narrative that takes into account all of the personality traits, actions, and experiences that have been ignored or marginalized by others. This allows for a more complete, satisfying picture about your life. Let’s talk about how to separate yourself from your problems.