We all have a story in us. Great stories begin with a premise and often come from something we know. Many writers write from what they know and what they feel most passionate about. In fact stories are our primary means of how we learn, make meaning and sense of life? We learn through examples that are used in the form of a story. The exact details don’t actually matter as much as the arc of the story line, and the lessons we take away from it. Storytelling is a uniquely human experience. In some ways it is the most natural form of human communication. All good stories have the capacity to be transformative. This is especially true of myths and fairy tales which show us fundamental truths by which man has lived for years.
The real truth about story is that in some ways, that is all we are. Our life is our story. By hearing each others stories we find relatedness and connection, but it is by telling our story we see how we see it. From that place we have the possibility to recreate our own life story and achieve our most heartfelt desires. The key to getting what you desire is to change your story.
So it all starts with telling your story as a story. This allows you to see the bigger picture, otherwise you can fall prey to seeing things in an ego-identified way… of ‘why me’ or ‘poor me.” When you learn how to change your story, to have a coherent narrative, you can change your life. This allows you to sense of and, therefore, be at peace with your life, because it connects the dots. This is what I call re-storying your life.
So to re-story your life, you have to become the Hero of your story. To do that I think it helps to become like a child again. Once a long time ago you had it, now it’s like paying hide to re-find it. Joseph Campbell identified in his ground breaking book Hero with a Thousand Faces the archetypal theme of the hero’s journey. The hero is the character that changes the most by the end of the tale.
What I have found is that stories, just like life, follow the same simple formula: the protagonist which is synonymous with “the ego” wants something. There is conflict as to why the main character (the ego) cannot attain what is desired. Help is usually found when all seems lost, the conflict gets resolved, the ego part of the self attains some wisdom and becomes the hero as a result of the ordeal. This is where life and story can differ. It is through the ordeal that the main character (the hero) is somehow transformed. This is called the character arc when the ‘true self’ is reborn.
The royal road to transformation in a story usually involves redemption. Redemption means a recovery of something pawned or mortgaged. The real work of our life is to regain a sense of wholeness, or to re-find the true self, while keeping the ego intact. Redemption comes about when the character demonstrates a generosity of spirit about life, an ability to find the gold in the ordeal, as opposed to staying stuck. As a result of the ordeal, he is made a hero and perhaps helps others to find the gold in their lives.
This is what gives our lives meaning and purpose… helps us transcend and rise above playing the part of the powerless victim. This re-storying of life is a shift in perspective or a revelation of how we stepped up to be a hero. This shift has the power to change the situation or circumstance of our life. C. G. Jung, the famous and wise Swiss psychiatrist summarized it as follows:
“an affirmation of things as they are: an unconditional “yes” to that which is, without subjective protests—acceptance of the conditions of existence as I see them and understand them, acceptance of my own nature, as I happen to be.” (Jung, 1961/1989, p. 297).
First you must be willing to take a leap of faith. Before you become the hero, you may meet up with the trickster. That is why most people stop short of achieving what they desire. Sometimes what we are looking for comes hidden behind or in the form of the trials and tribulations. In other words sometimes you get what you need which may not what you thought you wanted. To begin start with your story premise.
Every story has these six elements which equals the story premise: character, inciting incident, objective, opponent, disaster, resolution. Start with your life or someone you may have heard about and imagine how it can become fodder for a great story premise.