Rewritten (personal essay)

Writing, like nothing else, gives people a chance to examine personal history and rewrite the narrative. Literally. We call this “reframing” in the narrative therapy workshops I assist with. I credit author, Sandra Marinella, for introducing this potentially life-changing and scientifically supported writing technique to me. I have personally benefitted from this writing approach, and I have witnessed hundreds of workshop participants over the last three years be transformed by the power of revisiting and revising troubling personal stories. This isn’t about avoiding true events and living in a state of denial. It is about having the courage to write a difficult story from a different perspective, to discover truths that might otherwise remain hidden.

I caught myself replaying worn-out inner dialogue, which led to the writing of this post. I decided to reframe limiting messages, told to me as a child, into empowering messages. It wasn’t difficult to accumulate a list – evidence of how the brain stores information that is of no use at all! My writing exercise, shared below, will do more to rewire my brain than allowing these messages to repeat. You may have limiting messages running through your brain. I believe most people do, to a greater or lesser degree. I encourage you to disrupt them! Reframe them! Replace them!

Caveat: if a troubling or traumatic event has recently occurred in your life, it is best to wait before attempting to write it out.  

Note: My reframed thoughts are in bold.

“You don’t need to know how to do that, you’re a girl.”
Relying on a man for everything is limiting and potentially dangerous.

“Don’t be a smart ass.”
Sarcasm is part of my nature. I will not censor my true nature. I will proceed with caution in certain social settings.

“Don’t do things half-ass.”
I value my time and work. I do my best and move on. Perfection is not attainable. Learning and growth is.

“Who do you think you are?”
The answer to that question has yet to be written. An unfolding life continues to reveal. I do think I am worthy of all the joy life has to offer and when that is absent may I continue to recognize my worthiness.

“Speak when spoken to.”
When, how, and with whom I choose to speak to is my choice.

“You have a bubble-butt.”
I appreciate and respect my womanly form and applaud other women who do the same. May we uplift others who carry body shame.

“You’re too sensitive.”
Being sensitive is a gift in a world that can be materialistic, rushed, insensitive, and cruel. I will protect my sensitive nature. I will not conform to the ways of the world.

“Be a nice girl.”
I am. Unless there is a reason to not be. In those moments I will stand up for myself or walk away. I have the presence of mind to make the right choice.

“We can reimagine new ways of understanding our life stories, and we can re-create new ways to live with our troubled stories. While we need to avoid erroneous fabrications, our inner storyteller can help us rewrite and reframe our traumatic experiences.”

~Sandra Marinella

Thank you for visiting and reading. Be well. 💗Michele

Photo 2: notepad & laptop by Ann poan, Photo 3 & 4: my flower images, from my “Mornings like this” morning

Marinella quote from The Story You Need to Tell (133)

© 2022 Michele Lee Sefton

92 thoughts on “Rewritten (personal essay)

    1. Your words make me feel on purpose with this post. Thank you, Dawn! You don’t have to share your personal writing, like I did 😆 but I hope you find the experience helpful, and one you can use in a variety of writing ways.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Thank you for that much needed reminder where you wrote “perfection is not attainable, learning and growth is”.
    I take my writing serious & often become stressed struggling to get the structure I want amongst other details. A challenge I’m still learning to overcome since the seizures began affecting my memory & focus.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You are very welcome! When I first began teaching high school, I drove myself crazy with my perfectionist tendencies. I learned to find a balance between doing my best and letting go of the rest. Never easy and I had my share of sleepless nights. That lesson, of letting go of unrealistic expectations, spilled into the rest of my life. I believe I am better for it. Writing is its own animal! I believe we can spend a lifetime revising something, but there comes a point where we need to be satisfied and move on. Our creative souls need to keep creating! Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts. Take care of yourself. 💐


  2. Poetpas

    Since you’ve encouraged me to disrupt them I shall.

    Your reframed thoughts ARE bold 😂

    “You don’t need to know how to do that, you’re a girl.”
    Relying on a man for everything is limiting and potentially dangerous.

    This is under the pretence or signifies that the person who said that is a male. 🙃

    There you go!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Wonderful! I am happy to encourage disruption. 😁 May my prompting lead to meaningful contemplation. Bold me! 😂🙌🏻 You are correct in your “male” assumption. Little girls and boys should be empowered, not limited or controlled. Some parents do that, others teach. Some of us have to teach ourselves. 😔 Maybe it makes the lesson more meaningful.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. LOVE this!! I can totally relate. I have an easier time writing things out rhan I do talking unless I am in a safe place. This is a rare occurrence even though I have a decent therapist. But my appointments do not always line up with my need.
    This exercise is a great way to stimulate thought because ot can be difficult to get started when so many thoughts are in my head at once. What do I talk about first?
    Thanks for sharing this! ❤️

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I love your enthusiasm! I understand about writing things out. Writing can be cathartic and revealing, among many other things. I found this activity enlightening. I am glad you found value here. If you are looking for more in-depth information and writing prompts, Marinella’s book is fantastic. It is packed with research and stories. My pleasure and privilege to share. 💐 Thank you, Kimber. 🙏🏻

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Timothy. Yes, we should each be as self-sufficient as possible, regardless of gender. My mom sets the standard for accomplishing things that are/were traditionally done by men. Drywall, plumbing, etc. She is amazing! I have encouraged her to stop going on the roof. She sets a standard I will never reach. She gets things done!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Thank you, Michelle! I think your post will help many people. We don’t have to accept the stories people create about us to make themselves bigger. I’m reminded of the book “The Four Agreements”, which teaches the Toltec beliefs that we are in charge of our dream that we are living. We have our authentic self and true nature (also taught in Buddhism and Loving Kindness). We don’t have to agree to others’ perceptions of us. ♥️👍🙏

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your comment is generous. Thank you very much. If my post helps anyone today, my day is complete. 🌞 I love that book! The Four Agreements truly are words to live by. I have a small graphic of them by my desk. Thank you for mentioning that. A fantastic connection and a powerful closing remark. 🙏🏻💖

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you for this post, Michele. I’ve been trying to write about 40 years of trauma and 20 more years out of the hell that that created in my mind and body. I have never really understood reframing until reading your post. A very good read, and great advice. I’ll give it a shot. Grateful, 💕. Niki

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are most welcome, Nikki. Reading that you learned something here that may be of value to you is satisfying to me. Sounds like you would benefit from the workshop experience or Sandra’s book that goes into more detail about the healing power of writing, along with guided prompts. If you have questions, please ask. Thank you and best to you. 🙏🏻💖

      Liked by 1 person

    1. You should! Give it a go, David! There are many directions you can go. For example, if you are dissatisfied with the way something ended, you can write a new ending. It may stir up some emotions, but it can bring healing and new perspectives. Best wishes! ✍🏼

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I had not considered using the reframing technique with the tiny stories we tell ourselves, until a few days ago. Sometimes those “tiny” stories can have grand implications. Thank you, Art, for your understanding and support. 🙏🏻Much appreciated.


  6. I love this technique. It is similar to a technique I’ve used, use, and is so very helpful. It’s amazing how subtle we can get with this reframing. Childhood programming, as you write, is so deep, it takes time, patience, and courage to dig into these narratives, disrupt them, and re-create them. I love this post, Michele. Have a wonderful remainder of your weekend! 💖🌳🌻

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Jeff, for loving this post and for sharing your personal experience with this type of writing. It can be subtle yes, and limitless in its application and benefit. The weekend is flying by! 🙏🏻 Happy Sunday to you! ✍🏻💖🌳

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Right you are, Terveen. There are countless sayings and beliefs that get passed on without much thought and not always with ill intent, but they leave a mark on impressionable minds. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. 🙏🏻

      Liked by 1 person

  7. OMG – Love This !!!!! Reframing is so good. We limit ourselves, knowingly and unknowingly. I feel we even stereo type our own life, and put our self in handcuff that we create for our self, by our old thoughts, or whatever we picked on our life journey. Reframing is liberating and so freeing. We become a free bird and fly. We laugh at old self, and appreciate our journey and our growth. And the courage and wisdom to reframe is another beautiful part of our life and our growth. Love this inspiring post, and well done to you for doing this. It such a great exercise. to be done as often as possible, i do this, it helps me so much

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you found my truth relatable. 🙏🏻 There are worse things to be called, but I was not smiling, then. 😔 It was teasing and embarrassing, but I have learned to respect and appreciate my body. We all should!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Excellent post Michele. Body image is a huge one for women even later in life. Speaking to other women in my age group, we admit to dealing with an inferiority complex in our teens that continues to raise its ugly head years later. I need to reframe this as understanding that not everybody sees me in the same negative way as I do sometimes. But I do say while I have eyes to see, ears to hear, a voice to share and legs to walk, I am blessed indeed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am grateful for your visit and your adding to my post with your own experiences and insights. Thank you very much! Blessings indeed! 💖 I learned in my twenties, after a serious injury, the blessings of being able to carry on… walking and dancing. 🙏🏻

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s