Coherent Narrative

by Beth Haley

I was asked the other day, “How do you make sense of your past?”

My initial response was:

What does it mean, “to make sense of your past?” I really didn’t know what to say and so the quest began. Making sense of our past could begin with this question:

How do we explain who we are in the present?

How we feel about the past shapes our present.

How do we feel about the past?

What is our understanding of why things happened the way that they did?

What has been the impact of past events on our development?

These answers tell our story. Especially, the story we tell ourselves. This story can show how the past may be limiting us today. Which is why this question is asked:

“How do you make sense of the past?”

Why else would we want to make sense of the past?

“…if you don’t make sense of your life and you’ve had really, really difficult things in the past, the research shows that you’re likely just to repeat them.”

-Dr. Dan Siegel

This explains why this question could be asked, so my question is: How does one do this?

I found this writing prompt today for writing a coherent narrative of the stories from your past. It is at,

“Making sense is a source of strength and resilience. In my twenty- five years as a therapist, I’ve also come to believe that making sense is essential to our well-being and happiness.”

Daniel J. Siegel, M.D. Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation 2010, New York, NY: Bantam Books