The Importance of Balancing Your Story

Monica Smith
March 19, 2024
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We are living a life that is a compilation of moments in time. Moments that are constantly changing us. The moment we realized that moms and dads may not love each other forever. Or the moment we graduated after a lot of hard work. It is how we process and catalog these moments in our lives that will determine how we view ourselves and the world around us.

When I was three years old I had a creepy, great uncle on my mom’s side of the family do something to me that was uninvited; yet, also when I was three years old I was a cheerleader for a semi-professional football team that my great aunt on my dad’s side of the family owned in West Virginia. I could go all in as the victim or as the child who was given a really cool opportunity, but the truth of my full story is that I experienced both. I felt powerless in one moment and powerful in the other. I cannot be reduced to just one of these stories because both have shaped some of my formative feelings and thinking.

There’s no understanding of your inner strength when you dismiss your challenges, and hope gets diminished when you don’t acknowledge your joyful experiences. We have both positive and negative moments throughout our entire life. Acknowledging the balance allows us to live in reality. Reality is where we gain mental and emotional resilience. It is in our reality that we can learn to self-trust, self-represent, and self-protect.

I often suggest to my clients to keep a comfortable/uncomfortable journal over a gratitude journal. This self-connection exercise, when done daily or weekly, can be incredibly grounding. By capturing the challenges you are facing right alongside the good you are experiencing, you are building a relationship with your present self.

Consider how you could incorporate a version of this exercise in your own life.

Jill’s version: “Most of my life I have tried to focus on the positive. My friends would all say that I was that friend who always had a positive spin added. I thought all that positivity was serving me well until my son got sick. His diagnosis made me realize that I had no history of my ability to face challenges. I honestly did not know if I could handle it if things were not okay or didn’t get better. So, I started journaling each day in two columns, one for the things that were going well, and the other for the challenges I was facing. As I started reflecting over some of the entries I noticed that I was feeling stronger and more capable of handling hard things in my life. I also noticed that despite how difficult I could still find something that was good. This balanced type of journaling has helped me build confidence in my ability to care for myself regardless of what is happening in my life.”

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