The holidays are fast approaching; Before you know it, it will be time for holiday parties, gift giving celebrations, followed by the 12:00am shouts of, “Happy New Year.” And with the holiday, comes family stories.
This time of year often brings a few things to the forefront of our minds, family time. Some people relish their family time together and others might be hoping that someone gets the stomach flu and has to cancel the holiday dinner just so they can avoid a “have to” family holiday.
No matter which side of the proverbial street you’re on, you know your family has got a story. Good, bad or indifferent this is your family story. The stories we tell ourselves and others, are the stories that shape our lives. It’s possible the story you have in your mind, of yourself, your family, your relationship, is not the story you’d like to be telling.
Who are you in your life’s story? Are you the victim of circumstances outside of your control? Are the exhausted perfectionist doing any and everything, never saying no? Are you a sidekick to your partner? Are you the party person of the family?
Maxwell Maltz, author of the self help book PsychoCybernetics, talks about the power of our self-image, how we see ourselves, and the impact it has on our behavior. He argues that if we always see ourselves a certain way, we will never be able to change.
In this way, our family story, as it is, shapes our past, present, and future relationships. If we’ve always been thought of as the “black sheep” in the family, perhaps we carry that role into our work or social lives.
“What is the vision of your life or family? What is your purpose? What legacy do want to leave behind? What do you want your family to be known for?” When we ask ourselves these questions, we begin to shape the narrative, and characteristics, of our lives.
You might want to be known as that family that always has fun no matter what they are doing, riding bikes through the neighborhood and eating dinner together. These might be the characteristics you hope to embody both as an individual and as a family.
In my family counseling sessions, I like to ask families to think of the all the events linked together which create their family narrative. This allows the family to recognize the power in their hands to rewrite the story if it’s no longer the story they want to read.
It’s not an easy process, confronting the story we may have unwittingly had a hand in writing for many years. I want to encourage you to make the necessary change in your story, today and if you find yourself struggling with picking up the pen, know that I’m just a phone call or click away Katie Lemieux, LMFT www.FamilyAndCouplesCounseling.com