Owning our stories from a Happy Place

A square image with a cream background and green and pink photos in opposing corners. In the centre is the text "the work of owning our stories isn't always easy; but by working through our past, embracing our present and coming to understand the future that's right for us it really is possible to become the heroes we were born to be, living the lives we were always meant to live. Owning your story from a happy place." Followed by the logo and web address for www.cerynrowntree.com.

It’s Tuesday and I’ll be honest, I’m still coming down from an utterly awesome weekend at Fearne Cotton’s Happy Place Festival in Tatton Park, Cheshire.

It was brilliant to be there, soaking up the atmosphere and hearing from some fascinating and incredibly inspirational people; not to mention getting to guide a truly lovely group of folk through a workshop of my own.

The workshop was on owning our stories, and on the benefits we can bring to our lives when we choose to step up and taken ownership of these stories that we call life; diving in and changing our perspective on the past, embracing the present, and really getting to know your dreams and wishes to create the life that’s truly right for you.

I enjoyed every second of the workshop and so, it seemed, did the people I spoke with afterwards. So much so that I’m going to take this particular topic a little bit further and share it more widely… read on to find out more!

What’s with the story-line?

Photo of a tepee full of people listening to a workshop by Ceryn Rowntree. Photo courtesy of Rachael Morley.

To put it simply because I’m a bookworm. I always have been, and so I’m a sucker for a good story.

Which is why talking therapies appealed to me in the first place; because they’re all about learning and working with the stories of the people I work with.

But the more I’ve done of this work, the more I’ve started to realise how similar our lives are to stories: both have a beginning and an ending, both can be divided into chapters by the defining events that happen along the way, or simple through some crazy measurement like time; each of us are surrounded by a whole cast of supporting characters – some helpful, some otherwise, but all of whom have an impact on the story as it progresses; and finally, at the very heart of each of our lives is a central character whose adventures we follow for good and bad over years and years and years, and whose decisions get to decide the themes and outcomes of their story.

Making peace with your past

Photo of a book being held open on a bed, with a set of fairy lights between the pages. Photo by Nong Vang on Unsplash

Of course, like the heroine or hero of any story, the first thing we need to do if we truly want to take ownership of the path ahead is to get to grips with our past; how it has affected us and where we might still be feeling stuck.

That’s not always easy.

Our pasts can contain some bloody challenging and even traumatic stuff… and let me add here that the events that hold those pains and traumas for us aren’t always the ones other people expect or will tell you they are (imagine me shaking my fist at anyone who tries to tell you what was and wasn’t traumatic for you!) – the truth is that it’s often only by investigating our pasts for ourselves that we figure out those places where we’re stuck and, most importantly of all, work out a way through them.

Because honestly, we can work our way through them. Because no matter what we find in the past and no matter how many people have told us that we’ll forever be victims of our past stories, we always have the power to take ownership of our stories and move forwards more freely.

As Harry Potter will tell you, even the child who spent ten of his first eleven years living in a cupboard under the stairs can go on to change not only his own story, but the whole wizarding world. And it doesn’t just happen in fictional stories; look at the amazing Maya Angelou, whose start to life wasn’t easy, but who went on to become one of the most inspirational and influential women of her generation… of the entire 20th century.

Whatever has gone before you and however scary it feels to work through, that is possible. And what’s more, doing that work can be hugely beneficial – as long as you stay safe and supported throughout it all.

Embracing your present

A photograph of books on a tall, wide bookshelf. Photograph by Alfons Morales on Unsplash

Taking ownership of our stories means remembering that those stories aren’t just about the huge page turning incidents, but about every word in every chapter.

Mindfulness has become such a buzz word in our society nowadays, but really it’s about that – the decision to act consciously within our lives so that we can take ownership of the ways we think, act and spend our time.

And why not? Because let’s be honest, if we think only about those great big changes we need to take to get to where we want to be… well that can be a bit overwhelming. But if we can focus our minds on changing the smaller things bit by bit? Well then steadily those bigger changes fall into place much more easily.

And it’s in focusing on those small scale changes and individual actions that the parts of our lives that are less right for us start to fall out of the way and we realise more and more just how much of our lives can already make us smile if only we switch our focus or juggle our priorities.

Again, this isn’t necessarily easy (if only it were…), but it is possible. And it’s so bloody worthwhile to help ourselves live more of the lives that we deserve.

Creating the future that’s right for us

Photograph of Ceryn Rowntree sitting in a swinging chair covered in blue and gold flowers at the Happy Place Festival. Photo courtesy of Rachael Morley.

I know, I know, there is so much out there telling us to create the lives of our dreams that it can often sound not just empty, but downright ridiculous.

And understandably so, especially since our dreams and wishes can sometimes seem pretty damned outlandish and ridiculous.

But what if we were to work with those dreams – to dig into their roots in order to understand what they’re really trying to tell us; what they’re encouraging us towards and what is actually right for us?

I firmly believe that’s an incredibly important step towards taking ownership of our stories… After all if we’re going to create the stories that we want to live then we must know what those stories really look and feel like right?

And only then, once we really truly know what’s right for us, that’s when we can start taking the actions (even when it’s as scary as setting off on the road to Mordor!) on those big changes that will really truly put us at the centre of not only the story we’re living, but the story that we truly want to live.

Want to know more?

Maybe all of this makes sense to you and you’re intrigued to know more; maybe it doesn’t and you’re wondering if I can piece this together in a more complete way.

Either way, you’re in luck! In a few weeks from now I’ll be sharing the workshop online for anyone who wasn’t able to make the Happy Place Festival… or even for those who were but want to go through it again with a pen and paper in hand 😉

If you’d like to be involved with that then join my mailing list – I don’t email often, but I will be sharing an invitation to that session over the coming weeks.

I’ll also be sharing a workbook very soon aimed at helping you to dive even more deeply into that story of yours so again, watch this space for that one.

Along the way I’m also dreaming further into this idea of our stories, and how I can not only to work with mine more deeply than I already have, but also help others to do the same. No details or promises on that one just yet, but a lot of intrigue at this end, and the hope that I’ll have more to share very soon!

Meanwhile if you can't wait that long and want to work with me then click here to read about Soul-Led Therapy, or get in touch to find out more about a more my more standard Person-Centered Therapy sessions.

Meanwhile of course, if you’re interested in working with me then check out Soul-Led Therapy and book your own introductory session here. Or, if you’d like to know more about taking a Person-Centered Therapy journey with me then by all means get in touch.

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