The Stories We Tell Ourselves
By Wrye Sententia
As a writer, I’ve logged hundreds of hours tapping away on keyboards while drafting and writing plot lines, stories, and histories. Recently, I learned that old manual typewriters used to have an important key, “shift freedom,” which served to release a “depressed” lock key that controlled case and other functions. On digital keyboards today, we see only “shift,” without the freedom.
To me, this small bit of typewriter trivia reminds me how close to choosing freedom we can be without knowing it. The way that we relate to our memories, stories, and historical emotions can be in a “locked down” mode without even realizing it.
Since completing the Hoffman Process in April of 2016, I can now recognize many of the familiar stories and plot lines for what they are,identify where they come from, and know what to do with them. Ironically, almost all of my external life plotlines have remained the same since my Process – I still hail from a loving family of origin, still live and work in Davis, still enjoy supportive neighbors and good friends, still love my husband and my kids, and still share what I can of this solid goodness.
Understanding Stories We Tell Ourselves
What’s dramatically different for me after the Process is not what is visible on the outside, but what has shifted inside of me. Most mornings now begin with meditation practices, and my day takes shape with gentle effort rather than a tense, controlling mania. Gratitude leads me and forgiveness feeds me. Ease replaces urgency and Spirit-led serendipity has more room to roam. Gentle intentions and trust carry me into the day. Inevitably, these internal shifts toward freedom are having a positive effect on my external relationships and opportunities.
As my story unfolds post-Process, I see how my evolving professional life as a writing coach and teacher integrates with my personal past. There are no good plot lines or bad plot lines, just the stories of our lives. The kind of stories that have staying power, for me, are those that convey meaning and connection.
Each of us is born into others’ pre-existing lives with far-reaching implications from these interwoven stories of country, culture, and family. Yet, none of us is destined to accept a role or play a part that we don’t want. To a certain extent, we can “rewrite” our past, relax in our present, and draft a better future.
Make Choices = Shift Freedom
We all have writer’s choices. And, as most any writer knows, writing is sometimes easy, sometimes not, and most of the time has nothing to do with the writing itself and everything to do with the writer.
As a result of the Process, I am grateful to enjoy real shifts in my ways of being, having and doing, and regularly apply choice in my own life and life’s work. I find meaning in helping writers to find their meaning. I look forward to helping even more people unlock their own shift keys to personal freedom.
Dr. Wrye Sententia is a 2016 Hoffman Process graduate and the grad group leader in Davis, CA. At the University of California, Davis, she teaches courses such as“Writing in Psychology & Human Development” or first-year seminars including “From Selfie to Self-Understanding.” As a private consultant, she guides individuals from beginning to end in their creative nonfiction writing projects.