Over the last few months I have found myself increasingly interested in the concept of story-telling as a means of self-exploration. Here's an interesting suggestion for how to take a story-telling approach to uncovering the myths (those we're aware of, and those we aren't) that shape our view of the world.
A critical step in coping with a changing future is to become aware of our life story and the myths that have governed our life thus far, including an awareness of the unwitting assumptions and unconsciously determined habits involved.
It suggests the following approach:
1. Answer the old question, "Who am I?" Give 10 answers. And, "What would I like to be that I'm not?" Give 10 answers. And, "What would I not want to be?" Give 10 answers. These answers reflect many of the hoped for (hero) and the dreaded (villain) stories in your culture, your family and your life.
2. Draw your "life line"--the highs (paradise) and lows (paradise lost) of your life from birth to now. Sketch on the line the five major events of your life.
3. Draw a floor plan of your childhood home(s). Who lived there? What were they like? How did they relate? What were the moods and the feelings, the joys, the fears, the frustrations, the rules, the conflicts, the intimacy? What does this tell you about your expectations about life?
4. Draw a map of your hell. Who would you put there and why? Family, "friends," and other people who have hurt you. People with traits you dislike--arrogance, meanness, greed, ignorance, prejudice, cheating, lying, grossness, etc. People in history or stories who seem especially evil or disgusting to you.
5. Draw a picture of your heaven. The greatest people in history and in your life. Show what they have done--shown courage, forgiven, loved, been brilliant, been fun, given help, lead, patiently been there, shared wisdom, etc.
By contrasting (4) and (5), it will be clear what your personal mythology considers good and bad, right and wrong, the worlds of light and darkness, things to strive for and struggle against.
6. What needs to happen to make my life complete? What ideals and potentials have I not met yet? What promises have I made? Draw a picture of where you would like to be in ten years, indicating your goals, who you will be with, your work, the circumstances surrounding you, your feelings, etc.
7. Tell your story to others and think about your strengths and the positive parts, enjoy and think about their stories, and make plans to accomplish as many of your dreams as possible. Make your life one hell of a story.
Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst (sm)
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