Changing Our Stories

Changing Our Stories

Want to change something? Change the story you’re telling yourself about it. That’s one of the things we do in drama therapy groups: we play with our stories, dance them, sing them, transform them—and our lives change.

Here’s one of my favorite vignettes, as related by Caroline Casey, the Visionary Activist astrologer:

My friend Jerry was a relief worker responsible for setting up refugee camps in a small war-torn country. A week earlier some relief workers had been kidnapped and later found dead at the side of the road. Now, as Jerry was walking home with some colleagues, they were kidnapped.

They were put in the back of a van, and large guns were trained at them by tired-looking guys with red eyes. Jerry was sure they were going to die. But he had some background in psychology. He said to his friends, “We’ve got to change the story. We’re not being kidnapped, we’re being protected.” So they began to thank their captors: “Thank you so much for keeping us safe in this complex situation.” Their captors were puzzled at first. But that night when they locked up their prisoners, they said, “Don’t worry; we’re putting a guard outside so you’ll be safe.”

And three days later they let them go.

Story-changing is happening on a much larger scale now.

A book came out in 2010 titled Re: Imagining Change – How to Use Story-based Strategy to Win Campaigns, Build Movements, and Change the World – a handbook for activists and all of us who care about what’s going on in the world.

It’s written by Doyle Canning and Patrick Reinsborough. The title is self-explanatory, and it’s a great resource for anyone interested in effecting social change – inspired and practical.

A woman has changed the story about what it means to be disabled. Aimee Mullins has a dozen pair of legs, which give her speed, beauty, an expanded repertoire, and pizazz. Watch her on TED.com.

I’ll be back with more later.