Now is your chance to to see yourself as the hero of your own tale.
Have you ever read a book where the main character got everything she wanted and never had to struggle? Probably not. Most people wouldn’t even want to read a book like that. It would be incredibly dull. All good books have conflicts and strong characters that must face them.
Have you ever considered that your life is like a book? You are the hero of your own tale. Many of us don’t see ourselves that way, however. When we read books or watch movies, we are deeply inspired by the characters’ struggles and see them as strong and heroic even when things don’t work in their favor. And yet, when we think about our own traumas, we fail to see ourselves as inspiring or brave. This is often because we are too close to our own suffering to view it with the objective compassion we would give to another person. Instead, we often spend our time wishing our problems had never happened instead of seeing ourselves as the heroes and overcomers we are. When we do this. we lose the big picture, as well as the “story.”
If you could read your whole life story, chapter by chapter, you would see how the most difficult and painful moments have led to an increase in personal strength and growth or perhaps even pointed you in the right direction. No doubt, you would be inspired by your own strength.
In a recent study, researchers from the University of Arizona, Tucson, showed that engaging in narrative expressive writing -- composing a structured story which makes meaning out of painful emotions -- was able to reduce certain physiological stress responses, such as a reduced heart rate, in people who had experienced a recent marital separation. This writing exercise allowed the recent divorcees to process their feelings in a more adaptive way, rather than just rehash them over and over.
Now is your chance to to see yourself as the hero of your own tale. Think about a difficult event that has occurred in your life and write it as a short story. Take the following steps:
- Use your real name in the story, but write it as “third” person (she or he) rather than first person (I). You are the omniscient narrator.
- Consider if the main challenge in your story is a situation, another person or yourself (such as your own mind or a disease).
- Be sure to include a beginning, middle and end. The plot should escalate through the middle of the story and climax near the end before it resolves.
- Include how the main character (you) faced any challenges and did the very best she could at that moment with what she had.
- Be sure to express the emotions of your main character, and you may even include the emotions of the other characters, including the “villian.”
- Conclude with lessons that were learned, even if they were learned the hard way.
- Take as long as you’d like to write it out. Once it is finished, come back a few days later to edit.
- Keep your story handy when you need to be inspired by your own strength.
Seeing our lives on paper allows us to observe ourselves as we would another human being deserving of love and compassion. Next time you experience a difficult time, try to remember that it’s only one chapter and call on your inner hero.