What happens when you reframe your life stories?
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how the way we reframe our life stories in my Journey to Legacy™ program often results in some form of forgiveness — forgiveness of ourselves, the forgiveness of others, active forgiveness, and a more passive forgiveness.
First of all, what does reframing a story mean? Reframing a story is where we take the same facts that we remember about an event in our life, but change our interpretation of those facts in a way that helps us to feel better.
Let me offer you some examples.
A woman on my Journey to Legacy™ team told me that it wasn’t until she physically wrote down the story of neglect she experienced during her early childhood that she fully realized how young her parents had been when she was born — just 20 and 22. As she wrote, she reflected on what she had been doing in her own early 20s; she certainly wouldn’t have been up to the task of raising small children at that age. Slowing down long enough to tell her story with the written word helped her gain perspective. And gain a better understanding of her early childhood. The forgiveness she felt toward her parents was immediate. Replacing the story of neglect she had been repeating in her head for decades.
Sometimes our stories lead us to forgive ourselves for things we’ve been beating ourselves up for as long as we can remember. This happens all the time when clients write about topics like their divorces, their business disappointments, their past addictions, and their difficult friendships. They slow down, they reconsider the full set of circumstances they were dealing with at the time. They recognize how many good decisions they have made, and they acknowledge how far they’ve come.
I could never count how many times I’ve witnessed my clients’ writing and reframing leading them to forgiveness.
Why does it matter?
Because forgiving feels good.
Forgiveness in life story writing frequently doesn’t even extend beyond the written word— meaning that we don’t often send our stories off to the people they involve. It’s more often a passive forgiveness, between our hearts and the page. That’s where the magic lies, the power of reframing. It’s a forgiveness that doesn’t demand action, just reflection.
Forgiveness through life story writing settles the mind and heart and makes way for a more peaceful inner life in the future.