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The Stories of Your Life

Last week I suggested going back to your roots to complete old stories, heal old wounds and bring a new understanding to your life today.

While it can be painful, it is also very therapeutic.

Within your story of life there are many little stories, hidden like gems in the wall of your memory. They often get overlooked because we only see the vastness of boring, mediocre or unpleasant experiences.

Sit back in your easy chair and reflect for a moment on all the experiences you have had.  Which ones were exciting?  Which ones were humdrum or monotonous?  Which ones would you flee from without a moment’s hesitation?  Which ones would you love to go back, dig deeper and learn more?

Within the raw stories of our lives are life-altering moments; things that affected us profoundly but have been forgotten.  There might have been “Ah-ha” moments or some “Ouch” moments when you learned a deeper truth about yourself, but then simply stashed it away in the closet of your mind. There are treasures waiting to be uncovered, dusted off and enjoyed.

As you dig deep and uncover the events and people who made your life unique to you, think about those times as valuable nuggets of wealth.  Whether you had a difficult childhood, either from neglect, abuse or never being able to measure up, or you were the darling who never did anything wrong, you will have sustained both negative and positive consequences.

You might have become stronger, able to sustain the hard trials of life today.  You might have learned wisdom in that within each of us lies the ability to hurt or harm others as well as the capacity to develop compassion, grace and understanding.  You might have learned you weren’t as perfect as you thought. You might have learned that no matter how hard things were there was still hope – hope that enabled you to keep trying, keep going.

Take that list of events and people that you have been making.  Put each one on a 3 x 5 card.  On the front write the situation.  On the back, put down bits and pieces of information: words spoken, smells remembered, emotions felt, etc.What was happening?  How did you feel?   Who was there? What important insight did you receive?

Now take one of those cards and write a story.  Write it as if someone reading it could put themselves in that situatioin. Put down details vividly so anyone could experience the same sights, smells and sounds.As you write you will remember details long forgotten, some that may be very important. This is your story.  It is how you perceived the world you were living in.  Write as much or as little as you want.

Then read it out loud.  What greater truth was revealed? What did you learn about yourself?  What new strengths have been discovered?  What uncomfortable flaws or faults have been revealed?  We are a combination of both our strengths and triumphs and our weaknesses and shortcomings.  When we recognize all of them we become human, relatable and genuine.

You have just written a memoir.  Each of us has many memoirs within the overall arc of our life.  If written honestly you won’t be writing to seek revenge or get even. You won’t fabricate or embellish, exaggerate or bend the truth.  But your take away will be that gem of understanding of what it means to be human, to survive and overcome.

Marlene Anderson

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