Updated: Dec 27, 2021
This word, narrative, has been buzzing around in my head for a couple of weeks. As a writer, I see narratives all around, both within myself and in the world around me. We see the results or effect of them, but the narrative behind is harder to discern.
A narrative is essentially a story. There are four types of narrative writing according to Masterclass.com, but the one I would like to focus on is the "viewpoint narrative." In the viewpoint narrative the story is told from different points of view. Look at this interesting note about the viewpoint narrative:
"This type of narrative allows for the possibility of an unreliable narrator, in which the person telling the story presents information subjectively and in an untrustworthy manner. The unreliable narrator is either deliberately deceptive (e.g., a noted liar or trickster) or unintentionally misguided (e.g., a middle schooler who may not fully understand the events taking place), forcing the reader to question their credibility as a storyteller. "
Coaches, ministers, friends, and loved ones bump into stories told by unreliable narrators all the time; these stories attempt to convince us of the unlikelihood of our success, the futility of our hope or the impossibility of our pursuit. Whether you are exploring a narrative from the natural or spiritual perspective, you must determine the origin of the narrative, and if the narrator is unreliable or misguided.
To evaluate the narrative you are living, you must trace the "storyline" back to the beginning. For example, are you plagued with doubts about your ability to accomplish what you have set out to do? When did you first notice those doubts? Can you remember a time when you didn't feel doubtful? What changed? What voices (either inside or outside of you) are narrating the story you are living?
Is that narrator reliable? In the quote above, the unreliable narrator can be deliberately deceptive (think how stereotypes and discriminatory practices create a narrative about why certain people cannot do certain things in certain places), or unintentionally misguided (think, "How I vote makes me more righteous than you because someone I admire said so" creates a narrative of righteous versus unrighteous). In every story there may be an unreliable narrator, and a biased point of view.
If you think you have been influenced by an unreliable narration of your life's story, I strongly suggest you find an unbiased source to help you uncover the truth. Those unbiased sources could be people, those who want nothing from you. Professionals who are trained to help you look at your story from a different point of view. My personal favorite is the Word of God, which does not take sides and will help you identify the false narratives you have been told about yourself.
Michele Aikens is CEO & Lead Coach of Sepia Prime Communications and Coaching.