New Year, New Story
Most of us don’t take enough time to reflect on our stories and consciously create new ones. Instead, we get busy, anesthetize ourselves in a variety of ways, deny reality, or continue suffering. When our lives remain unexamined, we can become rigid and inflexible. When external crises arise, and they always do, we may break or collapse because we simply are not ready for change. We don’t have the inner resiliency to bend with, readjust to, or absorb new situations. We don’t know how to alter our story to accommodate these new circumstances. The beginning of a new year is a good time to write a new story for yourself. To start this process, write a brief biography of yourself, telling your story (2-3 pages will suffice).
When you are finished, read what you have written. As you examine your life story, you will begin to notice which events you have highlighted and which you have discounted. What did you leave out of the narrative, and why?
The themes of your story have organized the events you have experienced. What themes do you see in the narrative you have written?
As you do shamanic work, your story can become informed by wisdom inaccessible to the conscious mind, and you may discover new themes and new connections between events and actions you have taken. Then you may begin to see your story as mythic—as one influenced by powerful archetypal energies that have always been present in the human experience. These archetypal energies, such as those of the sage, trickster, eternal child, or warrior, and so on, are not intrinsically positive or negative. How you use them is up to you. You may become the underdog who achieves success—but you may also become the brave warrior who forgets the vulnerability of his Achilles’ heel, which leads to tragedy. Shamanic practices help you discover and work with energies effectively so that you may write a story you find more satisfying.
For now, reflect upon your story and how you have told it. Write about your observations. How do you feel about the themes of your story? If you could choose new themes, what would they be? What would your new story look like?
Carl Greer, PhD, PsyD, is a retired clinical psychologist and Jungian analyst, a businessman, and a shamanic practitioner, author, and philanthropist funding over 60 charities and more than 850 past and current Greer Scholars. He has taught at the C.G. Jung Institute of Chicago and been on staff at the Replogle Center for Counseling and Well-Being.