screen onto which we project our narrative frames. Does the photo stir excitement in imagining what you might find if you climbed the stairs? Does it stir a sense of foreboding as you imagine what might come down the stairs? Or something else altogether? I’ve been vividly reminded in recent weeks of the impact of our choices in how we construct our views of people, places and events. Even though we know that this story-making is central to how our individual and collective minds work, it is not always an easy task.
I’ve come to believe, however, that the art and discipline of noticing our stories as they emerge in the moment is at the core of narrative coaching and of being more fully human. This is particularly important when we feel ensnared in events that are challenging for us. With a tip of the hat to Irving Yalom and Byron Katie, in these times I ask myself questions like, “What is the ‘story’ I am telling myself? How is that ‘story’ serving me? What do I need to release so that I can see the situation with a bigger heart and a bigger mind? What would I gain if I did so?
Waking up in a New YearAs I look out across a new year, I am reminded of a quote from the famous photographer, the lateHenri Cartier-Bresson. While in Vienna recently for some holiday and lining up two projects there for later this year, I had the unexpected pleasure of seeing a major exhibit of his work as well as another of my favorites, René Magritte. Each of these artists was gifted in helping us to question how we see the world. As Cartier-Bresson wrote in 1994, “My passion has never been for photography in itself, but for the possibility—through forgetting myself—of recording in a fraction of a second the emotion of the subject and the beauty of the form, the geometry awakened by what is offered.” He describes it as a ‘decisive moment’ when the head, heart and eye are aligned along the same line of sight.
Beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder. As you make your way into a new year, spend five minutes right now reflecting on a story you’ve recently told yourself (and perhaps others) that now feels limiting to you.
Dr David Drake is the founder of the field of Narrative Coaching.