How we Create Our Reality…Some Ideas from Narrative Therapy

How we Create Our Reality

‘A story emerges as certain events are privileged and selected out over other events as important or true.’

David Epston, Narrative Therapy Centre, Toronto


Imagine you know someone well from seeing them on TV, hearing them on the radio, reading about them in the newspaper. You form an impression of this person based on certain information. Perhaps the story you form about  them is one of where you view them as kind, where there kind and caring deeds lead you to perceive them a certain way or perhaps the media has vilified them and you see them through the lens of some scandal they have been involved in. The impression you develop creates a story in your mind about this person; incidents add up to bear witness to the kind of person who believe them to be. This process happens with our sense of ourselves too. We privilege certain information about our lives and develop a certain view. Sometimes it is a good story, sometimes not so good but we all develop a story or narrative about how particular aspects of life are.

Things happen a certain way and therefore, we often think things are a certain way. And why not believe this as to a certain extent it can be true. Events do shape us and impact on us but this is never the full story. In order to be reminded of the level of control we can have over our reality, it can be useful to reflect on some ideas from narrative therapy. Here are a few….

Certain aspects of what happens in our lives get brought into focus by us and this is what creates our reality. Sometimes by privileging certain information or events over others, we begin to believe that because we see something in a certain way, it is a certain way. We can believe that our story about someone is absolutely true for we know that certain events happened but we can’t always know the context, we can’t always know the reasons why and we don’t always know what meaning was intended by what someone said or did. So therefore, our version of the truth is only ever a version of it, one among many.

In coming to know the truth, narrative therapy would suggest that by talking together we create truth by privileging certain information. We determine what form the truth takes and often we have conversations in our mind that determines truth because of the strands of information that are privileged. Take, for example, a person who believes it to be true that no-one cares for them. While this may be a very real experience for someone, holding this to be true will be part of what can stop a person noticing how others are caring for them. Feeling down and telling yourself the story that this is the way it will always likely be makes it much less likely that you will notice information in the world around you that tells a different story.

Ideas matter and stories do to… stories and ideas about you, others, the world around us. They all become real by being talked into existence so dig deep for new ideas and new stories if you wish to change your world. Thinking and talking differently can open up the possibility of a new world. Start to privilege new ideas and you are making space for a new reality to emerge. A new truth is waiting in the wings if you wish to claim it…. take the chance.