9. Re-Storying (Anchored Book Club)

In the ninth chapter of Anchored, Deb Dana contemplates the connection between our nervous system and the stories we embody. Re-storying brings awareness and understanding to the cognitive meaning we give to our different states. This helps us re-write our stories to support rather than work against what matters most.

Stories From Different States

Humans have an innate ability to tell stories. We use narrative to comprehend the world and assign significance to what occurs within, around, and between us. Dana suggests that we create our stories from the autonomic nervous system and, subsequently, inhabit them.

Each state has its own unique story to tell.


When we experience a dorsal state of shutdown, our stories revolve around losing hope, feeling lost, or disconnected from the world and others. These are stories of not belonging and feeling like a misfit, unseen and alone. If you find yourself in this state, take a moment to reflect on the themes in your stories. What are the underlying emotions that you experience?


When we are in a state of sympathetic mobilisation, our focus becomes solely on survival, and we tend to ignore any connection. The stories we hear during this time are usually centred around adversaries and are filled with emotions like anger, anxiety, action, and chaos. Have you ever noticed what kind of stories you hear when you’re in a state of sympathetic mobilisation?


When regulated in ventral energy, we open ourselves to stories of possibility and choice. These stories are about feeling connected, facing manageable challenges, and being safe enough to explore the world around us. So, take a moment to listen to your ventral state of safety and see what stories emerge.

Story Follows State

Our attention is captured by the story that arises from the autonomic state that is most active. However, it’s important to remember that we can access more than one story. By cultivating curiosity towards each state, we can begin to interrupt our survival stories and delve deeper into stories of safety.

Leaps and Landings

Dana offers a transformative exploration to reshape the patterns ingrained in our nervous system, guiding us through a process of awareness and transformation:

  1. Observe: Identify a pattern that no longer nourishes your nervous system and observe how it appears in your life.
  2. Letting Go: Envision yourself releasing this pattern and leaving it behind
  3. Taking a Leap: imagine taking a step towards a new, more nurturing pattern
  4. Landing Safely: Visualise yourself touching down in this new territory

We followed this exploration together in the book club. Join the forum discussion and listen to the sound anchor explorations I made for the sessions.