Rewriting the Stories We Tell Ourselves

Phyllis Unterschuetz

Rewriting the Stories We Tell Ourselves

Phyllis Unterschuetz

I’m Phyllis. Welcome to my writer’s space.

I am a writer. I “hear” ideas in my mind—usually in the form of spoken words—and they push on the inside of my skull, trying to get out into the world. I’ve been writing poetry since I was very young and I have a few fables in progress, but mostly I write memoir and creative non-fiction. My husband and I co-authored a book that was published in 2010, and I’ve written many blog posts and articles. For the past two decades, I’ve used my writing to create content for workshops and project-related materials. I’m grateful for all these opportunities to contribute to public discourse on race
 
At the beginning of 2021, I crossed into the 4th phase of my life and shifted my focus from facilitating workshops to writing full-time. My blog posts and books will live in this space.
 
I am a rewriter. When I have an experience, I talk to myself about it, often subconsciously, and that self-talk triggers certain emotions and reactions. Basically I’m telling myself a story about what happened and what it means. It is the meaning I ascribe to the incident, rather than the incident itself, that determines how I respond. I believe this is true for all humans. Sometimes my story triggers emotions that are unhealthy, counterproductive, or disunifying; maybe those feelings lead to actions that promote injustice or block the flow of love. That’s when I need to rewrite. If I reframe the incident—that is, I tell myself a different story about what just happened—then I will experience different feelings that will prompt a new set of actions.
 
You’ll see references to this process throughout my articles and stories.

Phyllis Unterschuetz

Phyllis Unterschuetz is the co-author, together with her husband Gene, of Longing: Stories of Racial Healing, a collection of narratives about their journey of awakening to the effects of racism. Longing has inspired honest dialogue in a wide variety of settings, and Phyllis’ storytelling video “The Promise” is used in classrooms and discussion groups to encourage deeper awareness about race. Previously Phyllis served as a speaker and workshop facilitator. She and Gene lived for fifteen years on the road in an RV, conducting field research on the dynamics of racial conditioning and presenting for universities and community organizations around the country. She was also co-founder and president of the Race Story ReWrite Project. In 2021, she retired from facilitating to focus fulltime on writing. Phyllis is currently working on her second book, a memoir about healing from a traumatic experience in her youth. She writes on Medium about race, spirituality, and rewriting/reframing.

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Once a month I’ll send you a story about rewriting, updates on the progress of my memoir, and other interesting writer-type stuff.