What Roles Do You Play in the Story of Your Life?
We all have a story about who we are and why we experience what we do. What is your story? What roles do you play in the story of your life? Are you the wounded healer? Are you always the bridesmaid, never the bride?
Maybe your story is called “I can’t trust myself so I’m hoping someone will rescue me before I mess up too badly story” but you want it to be called “I’ve got this!”
What part of you is making it hard to adopt the new story?
You can learn more about that self that is the overlooked bridesmaid or wounded healer and develop a different relationship to these aspects of who you are. You could learn something about that insecure part of you and discover what you could do to be more confident. Doing this might help you transform your habitual behaviors and attitudes, change your story, and change your roles in the story of your life.
The story you are living according to right now might not be working for you. If you were to write a new story yourself to explain what you have been through and where you are in your life’s journey, you might feel courageous instead of scared…
valued instead of taken for granted…
seen instead of overlooked…
competent instead of incompetent…
If you work as a healer—an acupuncturist, a counselor, or a nurse, for example—maybe you can discover new ways in which your own wounds can help you be more understanding of others who are suffering.
To write a better story, you must first acknowledge what your story has been until this point and what roles you have played in it. If you were “always the bridesmaid,” who cast you in that role? In other words, who wrote the story about how your needs and happiness are secondary to someone else’s? And why did you adopt that story? Did you even realize you adopted it?
Although it can be painful to see your story for what it truly is and be honest about your role in scripting it, doing so can help you claim your power to make different choices in the future.
Every role you have played in your life has qualities that you might not want to look at them too closely because they make you feel embarrassed or insecure.
If you have always been the bridesmaid, supporting others and not receiving support yourself, maybe you have at times pushed away help that was offered to you. Maybe you are the wounded healer, able to help others but not fully recovered from your own wounds, wearing yourself out as you care for others but don’t take care of yourself. Perhaps you haven’t acknowledged how much healing you need to keep yourself strong.
As you think about your past, consider whether you could write a new story about your relationship to the bridesmaid, wounded healer, or insecure and doubting self within you.
If you want to feel confident, imagine that self-doubting character you inhabit at times. What would you call this character? What does this “self” look like? Can you find something lovable about it? How has it helped you? Could it continue to help you in the future without your letting it take over and stop you from stepping out boldly?
As you think about these inner selves that have qualities that embarrass you or make it hard for you to be confident, imagine that they have strengths you have overlooked that have served you. Close your eyes, meditate to reduce the activity of your conscious mind, and let your unconscious mind guide you to receive a message from this character that represents a role you have played.
Maybe your bridesmaid within you, the self that regularly supports others, needs to start helping you more often.
Maybe the wounded healer in you will recognize where you are not setting firm boundaries with others so you can take care of your own needs a little better.
Maybe your doubting self, who is uncertain about whether you can be trusted with decision making, can recognize that you do make good decisions when you give yourself time to examine your doubts. Maybe it can convince you to be honest about whether you’re ready for a particular challenge and get some help from others rather than try to do everything on your own.
Change your relationship with these aspects of yourself that are like selves within and you will start to change your story about what happened to you and why. That sets you up to fully claim the role of the storyteller of your life and helps you write a new story, one that’s more pleasing to you and Spirit.
A version of this article appeared in OMTimes.
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.