We All Love a Good Story
It would probably only take you a moment or two to identify your favorite story. Maybe it is a book you really love. Or maybe it is a television program or movie that is close to your heart. Or maybe it is a meaningful story from your faith tradition. Or maybe it is a story you love to tell that always gets a laugh when you tell it to someone new.
These stories we love might be true or they might be fiction. In either case, your favorite stories are narratives that are important to you for one reason or another.
Stories are a big part of our lives—and they can have a significant impact on the way we think about things. For a person in recovery from a substance use disorder, several stories can play an important role in your recovery journey.
Let’s take a look at some of those stories.
The Stories You Tell Yourself
What sort of stories does your inner voice tell you? Is it constantly criticizing you, reminding you of embarrassing moments, and suggesting that you will never accomplish your goals?
Those are not useful stories for anyone—and particularly not for a person in recovery. If you allow that inner voice to tell you stories that undermine your self-esteem, you are putting your sobriety at risk.
It is much better, then, to replace all of those negative stories you tell yourself with positive stories. One way to change the tone of your inner voice is to repeat affirmations to yourself. Affirmations are simply short, encouraging statements that give a boost to your self-esteem rather than chipping away at it.
Imagine, for example, that you are facing a challenging task at work. Your inner voice might say, “I don’t think I will ever be able to figure this out.” Alternately, that voice might say, “I can work step by step until I finish this project.” The more positive story will help you make progress. It will also support your sobriety.
The Stories You Tell Others
When your recovery journey gets underway, the odds are pretty good that a lot of people—friends, family, co-workers, people in your faith community—are going to be curious about what you have been (and are) going through. You might feel pressured to share more than you are truly comfortable sharing.
That is why it is so important to decide in advance how much you are willing to share and with whom. Your story is yours and yours alone. You might decide that being open about your substance use disorder is helpful to you; you might decide the opposite. Either way, the decision is yours.
There is another group of folks to whom you might consider telling your story: Those who are struggling with drugs or alcohol themselves or who, like you, are in recovery. Sharing your story in those cases can help other people feel less alone and perhaps encourage them to get the help they need. The late Matthew Perry—most famous for his role as Chandler Bing on Friends—was committed to sharing his story of addiction for this very reason. Ultimately, he hoped this honesty about his struggles would be his real legacy. If you choose, you, too, can have this kind of positive impact in the lives of others—and telling your story will reinforce your commitment to sobriety, too.
The Stories You Tell in Narrative Therapy
Narrative therapy differs from other forms of therapy in that it is not necessarily centered on personal transformation. Instead, it is an approach to therapy that encourages you to separate problems and challenges from the person or people experiencing them. Far too often, we define ourselves as the problem rather than acknowledging that we face problems that are external to us.
To combat this tendency, narrative therapy calls for the reframing—or outright changing—the stories you tell yourself, just as we suggested above when considering affirmations. You are a person who encounters challenges and problems. But those challenges and problems are not part of you. Instead, you are a person who can face challenges and problems and overcome them.
If you are a person in recovery, you already know that you can do that because you have reclaimed your sobriety. Narrative therapy can help you remember the important distinction between yourself and the challenges in your life.
Our Story: We are Here to Help You
At Wooded Glen Recovery Center—located in Henryville, Indiana—we love a happy ending. And we are committed to helping every person we serve find their way toward their own happy ending by reclaiming and maintaining their sobriety. We know that no two stories are identical, and that is why we are committed to creating personalized treatment plans that address your specific needs.
When you are ready to shake up the plot of your personal story, we are ready to help you reframe your story so that the protagonist is you as a sober person.