Have you ever felt like a leaf in the wind, blown about by powers beyond your control? Does it seem that other people, or your circumstances, have dictated the details of the story you are living? Do long held, unquestioned beliefs about what you must accomplish make you feel that you are not the storyteller in your own life?

Often, people are unaware of how powerfully they are influenced by the opinions and values of others. They become like the leaf that the wind tosses this way and that. If you are not being true to who you are and what your passions are, think about whose ideas, opinions, and values have influenced or continue to influence your opinions. Perhaps their needs and desires are different from yours. Do you see a conflict between what you most long for and what you feel you ought to aspire to achieve?

When we become quiet and still, it is easier to get clarity about what we most want to have and experience. We all need to become grounded and reconnect with our own inner longings and callings. Often, we get confused and lose direction. Then, we can start to feel like a leaf powerless to withstand the force of the churning winds. We seem to circle back around to where we have been before, reliving the same types of experiences, becoming involved with the same people who cause us heartache. We can find it difficult to see possibilities instead of obstacles. Our list of “shoulds” grows longer and longer.

Doing shamanic work can help you access insights that are hidden from your conscious mind, which is very adept at rationalizing your current story and activities regardless of how drained or unfulfilled you might feel. Your mind doesn’t simply spot obstacles in front of you. It actually can create them and imagine what other obstacles might lie ahead. Your beliefs and ideas about obstacles may be kept alive in you despite your conscious desire to let go of them and replace them with more supportive, positive, affirming beliefs and ideas. What fuels these beliefs and ideas, giving them life? Shamans say that archetypal energies affect them. Working with archetypal energies can make a dramatic difference in your ability to reject the old stories and your beliefs about what your life was, is, and will be like, allowing you to write—and live according to—a new story.

To work with archetypal energies, you must reduce the frenetic activity of your mind and its thought processes. In the peacefulness created by a calmed mind, you become open to new insights that arise from the unconscious. Anyone can use shamanic and Jungian techniques to change his or her state of perception, access new insights, and interact with archetypal energies. You can also work with nature, dreams, and rituals and ceremonies to tap into the wisdom of your unconscious mind.

In doing the work of accessing the unconscious and its hidden wisdom and energies, you may become confused by the messages that come to you as images, power animals, inner figures, and the like. Fortunately, you can also use your intuition—your “inner knowing”—to explore the messages further through a process called dialoguing. Dialoguing involves having a conversation with inner figures, symbols, sensations, and emotions that we sense have wisdom to share with us. It is a core technique I explore in depth in my book Change Your Story, Change Your Life. It can take some practice before your inner wisdom speaks to you in response to your questions, but dialoguing is a technique that that can be extremely helpful. It often results in people getting insights that their rational mind missed, even when they were trying their best to analyze their dreams or images that came to them when they were in nature or meditating. These insights can help in writing a new story that is more satisfying and empowering than the current story of your life (that is, the story that explains what you have experienced so far and are currently experiencing).

To use the technique of dialoguing to gain insights, you can start simply by posing a question and waiting for an answer. When you are in a state of receptivity, with your mind calm instead of dashing from one thought to the next, the answers can come to you more easily.

No one should feel tossed about by the winds that are out of their control. To explore the influences on your decisions and question your assumptions about what you should and should not do is to take the first step toward changing your story and changing your life.