There’s nothing like a real-life story to give us not only a role model to follow but inspiration when we are facing a similar situation as the author found him or herself in. We can take comfort in the fact they faced their problems but they worked through them and came out the other side enriched by their experiences (not to mention a publishing or movie deal and an appearance on Oprah in many cases!). If we think about it, these real life stories take us back to the tradition of shamanic healing storytelling – when the shaman or spiritual leader would tell stories that involved the protagonist setting out on a quest and confronting various challenges along the way. These usually were in the guise of problems we all encounter – what Joseph Campbell referring to as ‘healing myths’ – and many of the bestselling true stories we read today are just a modern day version of a tradition that goes back to the dawn of humanity – except we now have Kindle instead of the campfire! (Note the archetypal reference in the choice of the name ‘Kindle’ however – linking us back to this!).
Chances are you have a favourite that resonated with you at a certain key period of your life or enabled you to deal with a past trauma. Eat, Pray, Love; The Year of Magical Thinking; The Happiness Project – and even (dare I put in a plug here?) my own book – Touched by Evil – stories of people who turned their lives around. These stories are here to show us we are not alone and they provide us with insight and guidance into how the authors coped when finding themselves in these situations. However, while they are there to inspire and guide us, what we always have to remember is that they are the author’s personal experience and intended to provide just that – guidance and inspiration. This is not our story as we are not them. Therefore, trying to recreate their experience as a solution to our own problems may not work simply because we are us! We cannot expect the same outcome or their solutions to work for us the same way.
Remember that we can create our destiny and no matter how hard life gets there is always a chance of transformation. You have more power than you might realise and can transform and craft your future and present story. An important step to this is looking at how you view the world and the words you use in your mind and to others. Words are the spells that create our experience. Be kind in your mind and understand the power of your beliefs.
Real-life stories by authors who have found themselves facing similar circumstances to which we find ourselves in today, are there to guide us and show us possible ways out of our situation. However, we need to use them as tools to trigger inspiration to come up with our own solutions, rather than just trying to re-live their journeys. Liz Gilbert actually sums this up brilliantly when she says:
“I’ve come to believe that there exists in the universe something I call “The Physics of the Quest” — a force of nature governed by laws as real as the laws of gravity or momentum. And the rule of Quest Physics maybe goes like this: “If you are brave enough to leave behind everything familiar and comforting (which can be anything from your house to your bitter old resentments) and set out on a truth-seeking journey (either externally or internally), and if you are truly willing to regard everything that happens to you on that journey as a clue, and if you accept everyone you meet along the way as a teacher, and if you are prepared – most of all – to face (and forgive) some very difficult realities about yourself… then truth will not be withheld from you.”
The real-life stories that we love are clues and their authors are our teachers who can provide us with inspiration, ideas and the ability to create our own stories – and the future we want.
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