Story Writing

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Strategic Assumption Testing

Examining how you instinctively react in a given situation could be a path to understanding feelings and thoughts you find difficult to put into words. Thus, giving you insight into your own deeper motives, and acting as warning signs of personal anxieties and frailties that may affect how well you can respond.

This are could be accessed by creating or finding a story or parable that is clearly fictional, but nevertheless has some parallels to a real situation you are facing. Ideally you would tell it yourself (or you could draw your own picture of – see Drawing – whichever you feel most comfortable with).

There are no requirements for technical skill (stick figure drawings or amateur narration are ample), or for anyone else to see it or read it if you don’t want them to, though it is usually more productive if you can get someone else’s understanding reactions.

As the story is clearly not an objective description of your actual situation, you are at liberty to be entirely subjective – you can make things happen as you wish them to, you can present things in particular ways just because they ‘feel right’ that way, you can note what has to happen to you to feel comfortable and how you react to things that make you uncomfortable and so.

You are definitely not saying that ‘this is what will happen’, but you are, tentatively, holding it up as a mirror to yourself, and noting the sorts of beliefs; expectations, feelings, judgements, anxieties, reactions, etc. that you may well find yourself bringing to such a situation.

Putting it into words in this way makes it easier to describe your concern to others, and may increase the range of metaphors and images you can use naturally in talking to others.

Should some areas of the story summon strong feelings, this may suggest a need for finding positive ways to handle similar feelings in the real situation, for instance, getting a colleague to help you out in situations you may not handle too well. Similarly, if you find yourself being judgemental about someone in your story, you may need to develop some way to help yourself see such people more compassionately.

In time you may become aware of cultural assumptions and expectations – what ‘ought’ or ‘ought not’ to happen by your (but perhaps not other people’s) conventions.

If you are working with someone else (who preferably had done the same as you, so that you are each supporting the other) show them your picture or story, tell them about it, let them ask questions, and say what they find striking. Work jointly to unpack the fundamental beliefs, expectations, feelings, judgements, anxieties, reactions, etc. and to see what needs to be done.

To use it on your own, pin it up on a wall where you can see it, and over a period of days, not down any features of the story or drawing that strike you as interesting.