Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Rewriting our own life story


Derry is an adolescent boy who sees himself as a failure in life because of a huge scar on his face.  He looks hideous to himself whenever he looks in a mirror.  He thinks that he is unlovable.    People stare at him because of the scar.  He has heard people make remarks about the scar.  “Only a mother can love such a face,” he heard a woman say once.  But even his mother cannot apparently accept the scar; she kisses him on the side of his face which is normal.  Derry hides himself from people because of that hideous scar. 

Courtesy:
NCERT English textbook, class 12
One day he meets an elderly man called Lamb.  Mr Lamb tells him to rewrite his life story.  You have everything that a normal person has: two legs, two hands, etc.  Mr Lamb tells Derry.  Just like any other normal person, you can be a success if you change your perspective: the way you view the scar.  Accept the scar on your face and learn to ignore other people’s remarks about it.  And go about doing your job.  When you focus on accomplishments, other people will turn their attention from the scar to your accomplishments.  Rewrite your story.  Give a magical kiss to yourself.

Such kisses belong to fairy tales, Derry protests. 

If you think the kiss will remove the scar from your cheek and make you a handsome prince, yes, the miracle will belong to a fairy tale.  Mr Lamb clarifies.  The kiss is a change of attitude.  The scar will remain.  But your attitude to it will change.  Then your life will change.  That’s the miracle. 

Miracles are nothing but attitudinal changes. 

When the cancer patient begins to view his illness as an opportunity to look at life from a different angle, a miracle takes place.  Healing takes place.  All healing is a miracle, a change of attitude or perspective.  You may lose a leg in an accident and yet become a graceful dancer if you have the right attitude. 

Derry’s story is borrowed from Susan Hill.

What Mr Lamb did was to employ the Narrative Therapy (NT), a recent concept in psychology.  The motto of NT is: The person is not the problem, the problem is the problem.  It seeks to empower the person to confront the problem by looking at it from a different angle, a different perspective. 

The scar is not Derry’s real problem.  What he thinks about how people view his scar is the real problem.  Derry can rewrite his story if he wants.  He can write a story in which people talk about things other than his scar.  “Look at that boy, Derry, he is such a wonderful footballer.”  Derry can write new dialogues in his story.  And the new dialogues will materialise into reality.  We are the story we tell ourselves. 


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26 comments:

  1. A brilliant concept! Liked it! However, what you said makes a lot of sense. We slowly become what we believe. Great job, sir!

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  2. Very true, as as David Schwartz said, “The right attitude and one arm will beat the wrong attitude and two arms every time."

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    1. Indeed, attitude makes all the difference.

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  3. I remember this story being taught in our school. Indeed a person is never the problem. A problem, to me, should be tackled exactly the way we tackle a mathematical algebraic equation! We might get lots of constraints, lots of unknowns and lots of redundant variables but we do somehow figure out how to find out the uunknowns from the lot.

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    1. That's a nice comparison. Solution Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT) in counselling psychology would welcome your comparison gladly.

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  4. I totally agree! you can do wonders only if you change the way you think. Instead of hating yourself for what you dont have, you should love yourself for what you have!

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    1. For many people that's not so easy. Hence the need for some techniques.

      Glad to see you here.

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  5. I totally agree! you can do wonders only if you change the way you think always.

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  6. Totally agree and you have shared such an inspiring post. It left me smiling. Very important to turn focus towards how we want the world to see us.

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    1. ... how we will make the world see us as we want it to.

      Glad you liked it.

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  7. very inspiring words. attitude makes all the difference in life

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  8. The problem is the problem.....I recently read this quote somewhere and here you are writing, as if you read my thoughts. Thanks for an inspiring read...!

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  9. I remember a blogger writing on Bibliotherapy!:) It is the art of writing a narrative of your problem with your favourite twist to do the miracle of attitudinal change!

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    1. Bibliotherapy is more about reading a narrative than writing one. It's more akin to the catharasis of Aristotle. Of course, writing has been a therapeutic process for ages. The difference is that NT does the therapy with the help of a therapist.

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  10. Yes. I told the blogger that it is about reading that arouses catharsis. Yet, seeing the conviction, I overlooked. Now confirmed. Thank you.
    NT is objective and must be effective.

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  11. Yes. I told the blogger that it is about reading that arouses catharsis. Yet, seeing the conviction, I overlooked. Now confirmed. Thank you.
    NT is objective and must be effective.

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  12. Attitude is the power. This is one of the best posts I have read in a long-long time. Very inspiring, read.

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    1. And I'm glad to see you here after a long-long time :)

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  13. I have studied this story in my 12th standard(passed this year 2016). The original title is On the Face of It.
    It is a story which touches our hearts.
    Mr.Lamb though he has a blown leg adapts to situations & instead of retreating from life's adventures, he enjoys life.
    Thanks for making me remember this story

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