The Power of Our Personal Story (Part I)
The Problem With Stories
Recently, I enrolled in an online story conference. It has been my experience that people who study stories in all forms often have profound insights into human nature and life in general. I’ve always come away enriched from any experience with other storytellers or scholars of the art. But this conference was the exception.
The leader of the conference encouraged people to share their most important life story. But something got lost in the translation. There were many volunteers who desperately wanted to jump into the spotlight. They described their past memories, problems, and successes. And quite frankly, most of the stories were like listening to someone vomit. The storyteller would go on and on enamored with the details of their life; we listeners just wished they would get to the point.
The conference leader tried to get them to be more concise or share only the most important parts of their story. But to the teller of the story, it was all important. It seemed that once people started telling their story, there was no off switch.
It is said that humans are natural storytellers. But there is a huge gap between a great story that empowers others and common sharing. This experience really caused me to reflect on the ancient art and power of a well-told story.
I first developed the desire to understand this principal while listening to a relative tell their long, long, long tale about a recent illness. After about twenty minutes, I politely excused myself. My husband said that was rude. But I didn’t feel I was rude for leaving. I felt that she was rude for making me listen to twenty minutes of worthless victimhood.
That experience left me with a question. How does one empower others with story? We certainly want our stories to be authentic and true reflections of our life, and that often includes sad, painful, and even terrifying details. But we don’t want to dump our shit on someone else and leave.
Suddenly, it hit me that our social convention is not helpful to the storyteller or the listener. My relative was adding fuel to a fire that long ago needed to be doused. My half-hearted attempt to sympathize with her only planted a seed in my mind for future problems. She probably thought she got a lot off her chest; but I left feeling her problem was now sticking to mine.
A true storyteller has the responsibility to enrich the lives of his or her listeners. If we tell the story from a place of responsibility where we admit our mistakes, share our feelings, and reveal our authentic self, we have stepped into a place of power. And that power conveys to our listener.
The Story Behind the Story
The practice of responsible storytelling is a long, lost art. Esoteric wisdom takes us back to the true art where stories engaged their audience and had real power. It says that our best stories have a ancestry that literally comes from the stars. The stories of our daily life are actually the reflections of a much deeper story. Some call these deeper stories archetypes.
The star constellations were seen as gods by the ancient stargazers. They invented stories about the lives of the gods based on the movement of the stars. Those stories were told again and again until they were believed by the masses. And once believed, similar events started to manifest in the lives of the people.
In the Beginning was the Word
Some wise people noticed this phenomenon and realized that they had God’s formula for creation. Stories are the raw materials of creation. In the Bible, this is spoken by John; “In the beginning, was the word.”
The archetypal dramas about the star gods became known as myths. The events that arose out of belief in the myths became known as reality. We believe myths are fiction and reality is fact. But there is much more to understand. Reality is merely the effect of the mythology.
Later we invented the idea of history, which is really “his story.” History was the invention of sharing only one side of a story or his (meaning masculine) point of view. History was the recording of real events. Since reality is always dualistic in nature, the person writing the story could see only one side. Since the general world view was a patriarchal perspective, intellect (or the masculine mind) became more important than emotions (or the feminine mind aspect). How we felt took a back seat to what we did. What we thought or the cause became hidden behind the effect.
A New Kind of Story is Born
People most likely realized that the storyteller stood in a powerful position. If his listeners believed him, he could say whatever he wanted. The idea of fiction or stretching the truth was born. Storytellers became kings and high priests if they told the right stories and gained followers. Even today, good storytellers have the most fans or followers even thought most of the stories are pure fiction.
As stories became one-sided accounts of reality, people lost their empathy for their listeners. They wanted fans and followers. They became more interested in getting results from their stories. One day, fear entered stories. The stories were no longer creative blueprints. They were no longer visions of future dreams. People started to tell tales that were terrifying. They invented monsters, enemies, and devils.
I suspect that the storytellers noticed that when they told these fear-based stories, the people listening became emotional and powerless. The one who knew that the story was fiction appeared super powerful to the people because he or she wasn’t afraid. The storyteller looked courageous when he or she was simply the possessor of insider information.
Remember “War of the Worlds”
Think about what happened when the story “War of the Worlds” was broadcast on the radio. It was read in news-bulletin format, and many people believed it was the truth. “War of the Worlds” generated panic for many people; and it secured fame for its writer. That fear created a powerful illusion whereby some imaginative people even claimed to see evidence of the story.
In the end, the reader of the story admitted it was fiction. Life went back to normal. But what if he had not come clean? What if he invented the story to gain power over others and then fell in love with the power? He would have been the only one that knew an illusion had been created. He’d be seen as the all powerful god or prophet watching people behave in fearful and powerless ways while he remained above it all.
Gaining Super Powers
Reality is the effect of beliefs plus time. Think of stories you heard again and again as a child. We know that no big, bad wolf was really in Little Red Riding Hood’s grandma’s bed. But we make conclusions from the story that people are often not as they seem, or we have to be careful that we don’t become too trusting. Eventually, our life proves our beliefs to be true.
Many popular, collective stories came from this fallen art of storytelling. We still pass them on today. They have been told so many times that now they appear to be unquestionable. Masses of people identify with a character in the story and spend their life trying to escape from its mythical grip. In truth, the story has no power. But our belief in the story has the power to keep us imprisoned.
The Road Less Traveled
Occasionally people come along with very different beliefs and ideas about life. They seem to be marching to a different drummer. I’ve found that often these rare individuals are in touch with their unique personal story. Their own story takes a front seat to the stories of their culture or nation or family. Freedom means everything to them. They feel that they are on a great mission or quest.
These people often do incredible things in life. From the point of story, you can understand why. Those who are all huddled around a collective mythology, tend to live the same lives. They don’t see an escape route because everyone around them shares the same reality. They are stuck like a rat on a wheel in a story that has no power to heal or resolve. They hope that others will fix the story or at least end it. But that is not likely to happen because the writer of the story has often been gone for thousands of years.
A great example of this phenomenon is the Bible story of the Revelation. This story was revealed to John. The churches in the story were real churches of his time. This was his quest, his battle, and his personal story. But somehow it became a collective story that never resolved itself. The churches are long gone. John is long gone. His personal end of the world was his personal story; and his world ended. But people have identified with his story and still await the Armageddon. The story can’t resolve on the collective level because it was John’s personal story.
Staying True to Our Self
We weren’t meant to live out other people’s stories. We were meant to live our life from our own personal blueprint. When we do this, we have all the answers. And the reason the ancient storytellers appeared to be superhuman is that they were living their own story. They wrote the story. They knew what parts were true and what was fiction.
I occasionally discover the unique personal stories of people. Sometimes they come to me when I review their astrology charts. That is fitting since these stories did come from observing the stars in ancient times. It is always an amazing experience to learn someone’s personal story. They sound much like any fairy tale or myth. But they are personal and relevant to every experience in the individual’s life. Suddenly, the context of their life makes sense. Every event has a heightened meaning. Their life story becomes very interesting. And the beliefs and lies that held them prisoner in the illusion are revealed.
It is said that jewelweed is a cure for poison ivy and always grows near it. Likewise, the personal star story comes from within. We can’t find the answers or the solution to the puzzle outside of ourselves. If our personal story arises, we must go within to find our way.
Steven King’s star story was Shawshank Redemption. So many people relate to that story. Shawshank is unique and has depth that stretches the gap between the heart and the head. When we read or watch Shawshank, we resonate with it as if it were our own story. Our star stories represent the place where we all meet and coexist just like the stars in the sky.
Most Don’t Recognize Their Story
Now don’t fret if you think you don’t know your personal story. I don’t know why some are known and others aren’t. I suspect that is a choice. If you truly want to know it, you’ll probably discover it. In my experience, this personal story seems to rest in our heart. It creates desires, ideas, and even problems. I often wonder if heart problems are so common because our heart is trying to tell us to live our own life.
The stories usually sound like fall stories. These stories take us from the perfection of paradise to the earthly world in all its craziness — from the spiritual to the material. They drop us off here on earth as if we have been placed in the middle of a labyrinth. Then we get to decide how that blueprint plays out in our life.
Does our personal story give us life? Does it kill us? Does it drive us insane? Do we battle evil and win? Or do we lose?
I have come to know that there is another choice. We don’t have to stay in the fallen state destined to continue to battle our opponents until we die. We can unravel the story and live free of it while still on earth. Since 1997, when I discovered my personal story, I’ve been experimenting to find out just how we do that. I knew the moment I heard my story that I wanted to live outside of its prison walls.
If we see our story as a giant battle against evil, it will be that way. People will show up that appear to play the part of evil. If we see our story as a game, we will create worthy opponents. If we see our story as a puzzle to solve, people will serve as clues or obstacles. But if we see our story as an error and we correct that error, we can free ourselves from its grip. There is no one right way to use our story so long as we don’t impose our way on another.
The people who vomited their stories at the conference were missing this crucial component of great story telling. Our heart wants to hear stories of freedom. It wants new ideas and creative expressions. If we just portray ourselves as victims or martyrs of life, our story has nothing to offer. In short, stories told without responsibility have no intimacy. Without intimacy, a relationship cannot last. Likewise, without intimacy a story fades away.
Freedom From Our Story
If we want freedom, we must start to think like an initiate. And it is my goal to share with you exactly how to do that on this blog. As initiates, our task is not to tell our story over and over. That only makes it harder to change or release. Our job is not to make our story right or true. It happened so it is real, but it might not be the true expression of our Self.
We can play in the illusion of good and evil as long as we are having fun. But when we lose interest, we use our story to get out just like we used it to come in. Our quest becomes to find each lie buried within the lines of the story so that we can correct our thinking and return to our perfectly pure mind. Each time we let go of a lie within the story, our mind shifts and our life shifts accordingly. We see the world though different eyes and ears.
The story of Jesus was the pattern for this process. He explained this by stating that those with eyes and ears would understand. He also explained the process when he told of separating the wheat from the chaff. He also said that our house needs to rest on a solid foundation. He said it many ways; but people misinterpreted his message and made the martyr story the right one. Even Jesus didn’t end his story as a martyr. He resurrected. He became free of the illusion and invisible to those who used to be his enemies. I have no idea if Jesus existed or not, nor do I care. But the story was perfectly crafted; and it contains everything we need to learn to live a free life.
Story is power and when used rightly we become the writers of our lives. It is actually quite amazing that we managed to create a way of living whereby we are writing the play of our lives and yet think we are not. It must have been a very challenging thing to do. And we don’t have to stay in that mindset, we can pick up our pen and own that we have always had the power of the word.
In part II of this post, I share one of my closest friend’s personal stories with you. Click this link to go to part II.
You can see how the beliefs (or lies) within that story affected her life and caused her to lose her will to live. In part III, http://gatewaytogold.com/power-of-personal-story-iii/, I’ll share with you a specific technique that I teach for achieving freedom from your story using my friend’s story as an example.