Narrative and Nature
Our Narrative is a powerful force. We are more than creatures simply on autopilot for survival. People have the potential to thrive--not just survive. Our Nature and Nurture play a role in our life development, but our destiny is not determined by them. Read my article on Nature, Nurture & Narrative for an overview The Three N's. In this article we will see how our Narrative can guide us regardless of our Nature.
The "Three N's" Overview:
Nurture: Our upbringing; Nature: Our genetics; Narrative: Our choices.
Narrative & Nature
Nature represents the biological aspects of our humanity, informing our physical framework. At the smallest scale our genetic code determines our body type and the many processes therein. Genetic testing can give science-based insights to one's ancestry, personality type, current health, and the potential of future disease (such as Alzheimer's).
It was once thought that our genetic code was like a pre-programmed computer that could not be altered--but this has been thoroughly disproven! This branch of science, known as epigenetics, now reveals that our genome has flexibility.
In essence, some of our genes can activate or deactivate based on our Narrative (lifestyle: such as exercise and diet) and our Nurture (such as our social or physical environment). So, having a healthy Narrative approach toward our lifestyle and environment can equal a healthier genome!
Let's take one's genetic predisposition to Alzheimer's. Genetic testing can inform someone of their probably of developing the disease. Let's say an individual's assessment indicates a high probability. What can their Narrative do about this? Neuroplasticity comes into place here.
Neuroplasticity is the brain's ability to adapt and change according to what a person reinforces (or does not reinforce) regarding lifestyle. So, the healthier our Narrative (choices), the healthier our brain adapts to grow stronger and more resilient! See these articles about natural ways to keep the brain more resistant to future cognitive decline and disease: Alzheimer's Association & Tips.
During my masters program a psychologist told a story. Their client's older sibling developed early onset Alzheimer's. Concerned, their client got tested, which showed they had the same genetic markers as their sibling. The psychologist then helped the client develop a brain "cross training" plan. This involved activities to stimulate the mind through different disciplines (such as math, literature, history, science, etc). While the client eventually developed Alzheimer's, it was estimated that their plan delayed onset by ten years.
Genetics plays a significant role in our physical make up. Some people are tall, others medium, and some short. Height can help a person have a greater chance at playing professional basketball. A person of short stature is better equipped to be a horse jockey. While our body frame plays a part of our story, it certainly doesn't determine it.
There are thousands of stories of people who could have let their body types say, "Don't do that, because you are too ______." But, those with a strong Narrative will excel toward their dreams regardless of what their body (or society) says is possible. This leads us to the story of Nick Vujicic.
Nick was born in Melbourne, Australia. He faced some of the usual things young teens do, such as being bullied and trying to figure out a sense of identity. Emotionally he struggled with depression and loneliness. While unfortunate, these challenges are not out of the ordinary--except Nick endured these issues because he was born without arms or legs.
At one point his depression became so severe that he made a plan to commit suicide. His Narrative told him, "You are not like other humans. You do not have a purpose." Nick's Narrative changed, however, during his later teens. He credits his faith in God as the One who shaped his new Narrative.
Since age 19 Nick has traveled the world with his message of purpose. He speaks to churches, schools and businesses about the power of human potential. His personal hobbies are golf, fishing, painting--and swimming! Nick's organization, Life Without Limbs, is now based in southern California.
Your Narrative & Nature?
What about your Narrative? Is it speaking louder than your Nature? Are you living within the perceived limits of your genetics and body type? Or, is your Narrative speaking a greater message beyond your perceived limits? What next steps is your Narrative leading you toward? It's time to discover that path that leads to higher places!
Other articles in The Three N's of Life Development series:
Nature, Nurture & Narrative - Overview of the Three N's.
Narrative & Nurture - How your Narrative can speaker louder than your Nurture.
Dale's Story - Seeing While Blind - A Narrative of true 20/20 vision.
Zach Lucas is a Licensed Professional Counselor for the State of Oregon.
He also teaches dual credit high school Psychology classes in the Portland area.
Feel free to contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The information provided is for self-exploration only and not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any condition or disease. Always consult with a licensed professional who specializes in the area you are seeking to understand and treat.