The Cathartic Impact of Sharing Your Stories on Behaviour

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The Cathartic Impact of Sharing Your Stories on Behaviour

You would have believed that an adult and sane mind should take charge and full responsibility of the behaviour and actions of the person and that explanation for deviation from the right behaviour are merely excuses. After going through this article, you may continue to believe so, but with greater acceptance and scope for accommodation.

“The right behaviour” in the opening sentence is difficult to define as it is highly subjective. Social customs considered to be wrong during yesteryears are considered to be right today and vice-versa. What is right for a person may be wrong for another and hence is outside the scope of this article.

You must be pondering over the clause, ‘‘An adult and sane mind should take charge and full responsibility of the behaviour and actions of a person”. Does this actually happen all the time? Behaviour is a complex topic and a very interesting one. Many of you do not realise the immense role of the subconscious mind, in shaping the behaviour of a person.

The behavioural pattern of an individual is largely affected by the sub - conscious mind. Past experiences get stored in the sub- conscious mind and affects behavioural pattern. You may or may not remember these experiences. The larger part of human brain consists of subconscious mind, conscious being a very small fraction of it. According to Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), an Austrian neurologist and founder of Psychoanalysis, human behaviour is largely affected by subconscious mind. Psychologists have compared human mind to an iceberg where the larger part, the subconscious mind is immersed below and hence is not visible. The visible part of the mind, the conscious mind comprises only a small part of the human mind.

“Dear Zindagi” a 2016 Indian film, digs deep into the behavioural issues and helps develop a greater understanding of the topic. Herein, the therapist leads the lead female character to talk of her painful childhood memories and experiences which eventually helps her get rid of her behavioural issues. During their numerous conversations, the therapist does not get judgemental at all.

Many of you may realise that through the process of “Repression” you cover your unpleasant memories with a tight lid and sit upon it because they are too painful and threatening to acknowledge. This may get revealed through unpleasant dreams or behavioural problems. Telling your stories can go a long way in correcting these behavioural deviations. Social researcher, Brene Brown says “When we deny our stories, they define us. When we own our stories, we get to write a brave new ending.”

An amazing book, “Reclaim Your Life” by a renowned therapist and writer, Dr. Shelja Sen, explains in terms of the magic word “WOW” which indicates, when you own up your story-

You are worthy, you are original and you are welcome No matter what!

The book cites, Definitional Ceremonies to support the statement, “A story is not a story until it has found an audience”. In Barbara Myerhoff’s words, “Definitional ceremonies …provide opportunities for being seen and in one’s own terms, garnering witnesses to one’s own worth, vitality and being (Myerhoff 1986, p267).

“Myerhoff, a cultural anthropologist, studies the elderly Jewish community in Venice, California, in the late 1970s. She was fascinated by their practice of “telling and retelling, performing and re-performing the stories of their lives’ in front of an audience. Observing these practices, she realised that when cultures are fragmented or there are broken identities, it is very difficult to find proper audiences for our stories. They needed to be created and the word she gave to these practices was Definitional Ceremonies.”(Reclaim Your Life by Shelja Sen, p149-150.)

The technique of Free Association, a psychodynamic therapy involves guiding a patient to talk whatever comes in the mind with a hope that repressed memories will emerge.

Freud said that sometimes his free associating patients experienced “Abreaction”, which is a stressful and intense memory as if reliving their experience. When this occurred during therapy or in the presence of supportive close friend resulting in cleansing and feeling better it would be “Catharsis”.

Dr. Shelja Sen shares in, “Reclaim Your Life”-“It is our stories that give us a sense of purpose
and meaning. We are the authors of our lives and we can choose which stories we want the
light to shine upon and which stories we would rather edit out. Imagine our life as a
treasure chest and all our stories as different gems of different hues and shine”.

Thus, you can see that a part of our behavioural issues can be sorted out by sharing your
stories. It is very important to take charge of your own behaviour.

About the Author

Dr Mona Sahay
Behavioural Trainer.

Dr. Mona Sahay is a certified master coach of Neuro-Linguistic Programming(NLP) and a behavioural trainer based in Noida, India. She has worked as

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1 Comments

  • Hi Mona, in a small way you have dwelt upon behavioural science. We believe, every behaviour has its roots, somewhere in the present or may be in the distant past and as you said caged and embedded in subconscious mind which props up in our behaviour or reactions. We have witnessed cases in daily life strange crowd behaviour. No one is related to the person who was beaten up by the crowd for he had stolen a small article in a house and got caught. The root for this behaviour can be traced to general thought among public that the thief may burgle other houses. Similarly, when someone passes away in a family we expect close members of the family to cry so that the loss, trauma and tensions one is passing through rolls out through the tears of eyes, specially among the children and females or it will manifest itself in different behaviour patterns. It may lead to depression and aggressive behaviours. Recounting the unpleasant past, instead keeping it embedded in caged sub-conscious mind, certainly leads to purging of pent-up thoughts and feelings which ultimately leads to relaxing of mind and body. Good write-up. More elaboration will help uninitiated also.

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