Imagine living a lie as Truman (see last blog) did. Your whole world and all your perceived fears were illusions. It can be. Much of our story is our own creation. Think about the tone, theme, and roles of your life.
There are many reasons why it is important to look at and understand the story of our life. One is that our past often dictates our future. Events throughout our life, interpreted, felt and catalogued in our memory become the basis for a story that we are often unaware of but make up the fabric of our expectations and view of ourselves. For some, their story is a tragedy, a comedy, a romance, or an irony. The tone of our story sets the stage for expectation. A tragic story will fuel pessimism and could produce a victim or a martyr. What is a person’s role in their story- healer, teacher, warrior, lover, friend, survivor? We may not be aware of the role we play, but there are often very distinct roles that we have seen ourselves in, continue to expect, and often live out.
McAdams, in “the stories we live by,” states that “stories are less about facts and more about meanings. In the subjective and embellished telling of the past, the past is constructed—history is made. A tale much embellished but truthful even so, for truth is not simply what happened but how we felt about it when it was happening, and how we feel about it now.”
McAdams presents an interesting formula for discovering and evaluating the story of our life. The first thing that he suggests is to divide your life into 3 to 8 chapters, giving each chapter a name and describing the contents. The next step is to describe the eight key events of your life: a peak experience, a turning point, an earliest memory, and important childhood memory, an important adolescent memory, an important adult memory, and another important memory. After completing this exercise, it would be valuable to explore the themes and foci that emerge. Lastly, he suggests that you write your future chapters. How do you see your life progressing, what are your hopes and dreams? How does this evolve from your current story?
Exploring your life story and examining your roles can be invaluable in understanding your self and evaluating where you are going.