5 Steps For Remaking Your Personal Myth
How you tell your story is how you live your life. Change how you tell the story of your past & you change the course of your destiny.
Maybe you’ve just entered Saturn Return or are having a quarter-life crisis. Maybe you’ve left school, got married, or are WOOF’ing in a new country. Maybe you’ve begun the good work of shadow integration. Whatever it is, you’re on the brink of irrevocably altering who you think you are...
...thus, how you want to be in the world.
And how you tell your story determines what will happen next.
I have a few exercises to help you remake your personal myth. For this project, you’ll become an evolutionary scientist of your own inner universe. You’ll analyze your appetite for the types of stories you love. You’ll pull out old journals & finally put away childish things.
The payoff? Changing the course of destiny.
STEP 1. STREAM YOUR CONSCIOUSNESS
We invent the story of our lives. We don’t necessarily notice how we shape the myth. We’re telling it “how it was.”
But how you tell the story displays your view the story.
So, lemme ask you: how does your story go?
Grab your diary & favorite pen. You can also use the Voice Memo app on your phone. Set a timer for 15 minutes & tell the story of your life, from origins to the present.
You can press on if you’ve built up cathartic momentum. The time limit adds urgency, so you tell your story off-the-cuff, without stopping to edit or present the “best” scenario. Whatever you say automatically is usually how you really feel.
Before rereading or replaying your recording, walk away. Fetch a beverage, tidy up your desk, or spin your tunes & dance until your energy's all swirled up.
Come back & read what you wrote down, highlighting about 3-5 events or emotional turning points. If listening to a recording, jot down keywords & details. These are the keys to your myth: the dots connecting the arch of the story together.
Now, organize the narrative based around the keys. Decide on a beginning. You can either curtail the ending, or choose on a major recent event to represent the finale. If you know where you want to go from here (at this point in your life), go ahead & weave it in.
This is only an exercise, so don’t worry about drafting a fine piece of work. Your objective is to lay out all the dots you have inside--even if they don't cohere or you can't trace an arch through them. Just externalizing this story, however convoluted, will give you the bird's eye view you need to make something out of it.
When you feel you’ve got it, head to step 2 to examine it.
STEP 2. READ THE MYTH 4 DIFFERENT WAYS
Now, this is where you'll start really understanding your story. You’ll read the myth from 4 different points of view. Each view will provide a different analytical perspective of your working myth.
Grab your diary & a pen again. Listen to or re-read your working narrative, while going through the different types of readings below, one-by-one. We'll start with obvious, important details, getting more interpretive as we go.
When you've answered all the Qs, you'll have a birds-eye view on your narrative, so you'll be able to parse out tropes, themes, & symbols meaningful to where you want to go.
THE FACTUAL READING.
What’s the setting of your story? (Name the country, the physical address, etc.) Loosely describe the historical context. What was happening in the world at the time? (The current events & trends influencing the story from the background.)
Who are the key players? What is their goal & what are the obstacles? How do they overcome the obstacles? What virtues do they demonstrate & what vices hold them back?
THE SYMBOLIC READING.
What does the setting represent? (Analyze the current events & trends influencing the setting to help with this.)
What archetypes do the players represent? In what ways is this obvious? (Look at the virtues, vices, or story arc.)
THE MORAL READING.
What were 1-3 big lessons learned from the experiences in your main narrative?
What can people learn from your story? What could you teach people from truelife experience?
THE MYSTICAL READING.
What is the unique insight of your myth? What would you call your eureka moment?
Once you've aggregated these different perspectives, set your diary aside (or wherever you've been jotting down these self-reflective notes). Take another break. You might be tempted to go back to Step 1 & tell your story over again, with renewed self-understanding. If so, do that.
When you feel like you've got down everything you need or want to say in your working narrative, move onto Step 3.
STEP 3. BINGE & PURGE
Pick your diary back up. List all your favorite books & movies from “back in the day”—high school or early adulthood: the books / films you constantly quoted; the soundtracks you were listening to; the media that inspired or mirrored back to you the world you felt you were living in.
Now, gather up the classics & binge. Make a weekend out of it or plan a movie party with longtime friends. Clue them into your myth-making project.
After you binge-watch / binge-read, grab your diary & purge all your thoughts, revelations, & recollections. For me, it helped to start off summarizing the stories / plots in my diary. While summarizing, I realized what mostly interested me about them. How much do I focus on the relationships or family dynamics? Do I tell the story based around the protagonist’s final moment of clarity, or am I focused on the plot? What events or scenes fascinate me most? What are my favorite lines? What made me bust up laughing or burst into tears?
The most important thing you need to answer: do you still relate with the protagonist? What part of the journey do you most appreciate—the moment of triumph; when all hope was nearly lost; the battle royale; the main character’s final revelation? Is this different from what you appreciated about the story on your first encounter?
If hosting a movie marathon, have a discussion. (Provide caffeine.) Did you get bored or were you interested until the end? Do you still laugh at the jokes or swoon at the soundtrack?
Often, the type of stories we love mirror back what we believe & feel about our lives. Binging on those classic stories gives us perspective about where we're at now: we can see what we’ve outgrown & also what we’re still attached to. Knowing what you’re still attached to can orient the rest of your journey.
In the catacombs of white trash hell, I lived on slasher films. I watched House Of 1000 Corpses on a loop for 2 1/2 weeks.
When I emigrated to suburbia, I was usually the first person to introduce horror films to my friends. I made fun of them for squirming or trivialized their disgust.
A true life convo while watching Wes Craven’s original Last House On The Left:
“Turn this shit off! I don’t want to watch girls getting raped & cut up!”
“What? This is REAL LIFE, man! This is a vignette into real human experience!”
“Yeah, I know, rape & murder are real & shouldn’t have entertainment value.”
“Obviously they do.”
“Not for people who aren’t obsessed with their own damage. Shit like this perverts human damage.”
This conversation was a turning point for me. The argument didn’t curb my appetite for cinematic horror, but I thought about the convo years later, when I realized I’d lost my nerve for murder fantasies & sexual cruelty.
Why did I lose my nerve? Because my friend had been right: horror films masturbated my psychic wounds. The more damaged I felt, the more damage I wanted to see. What interested me about the macabre was that the feelings it stirred affirmed the feelings I was most conditioned to.
No, baby, I don't flinch at rape scenes or squelchy face punches.
And when I didn’t feel damaged anymore, I lost my appetite. My worldview shifted. I "get it" when someone tells me they love slashers--I intuitively understand why.
Now that you’ve revisited the old stories, find movies / books that could become your new classics. Have you recently made friends with some devastatingly cool person—a coworker at your awesome new job or your newly-minted hubby’s irresistible older sister? Ask them about their fav books & movies of 2017. (Maybe host another film fest!)
STEP #4: IDEALIZE THE FUTURE
Remember the first exercise? Do it again. Set the timer. Ready your pen or audio recorder.
But this time, tell the story the way it should go to make your desired outcome inevitable.
This may require some prep work. Like, an afternoon of Desire Mapping, meditative daydreaming, or a solitary train ride with just your diary & a pair of headphones. You may have teased out the patterns & archetype(s) of your story, but with all this content lying on the page, what do you really think?
Try this. What do you love seeing? What about your narrative makes you proud?
What could you teach people that you know from true-life experience?
Is it realizing your life suits you as a wisdom warrior? A starburst of confidence that hey, maybe you are a lover-mommy-Goddess after all?
But the most important question for reframing your myth: What do you want?
The other most important question: How can you make your life more about what you've loved about being alive?
Your creative task: integrate what you love about your existing mythology with what you want to get, do, or experience. Set the timer for 25 minutes & tell the WHOLE story, as if you've already lived it. Start with your origins, end on a epithet. Write it, vlog it, or audio record it.
When you get to the part(s) that hasn't happened yet, improvise. Let it fly off the cuff. What do you imagine happening that makes the whole picture of your life cohere?
Even if you think you can't whittle your story down any further, or that you've got a clear arch between what you consider to be the keys to your myth, you may still find events, people, & whole lessons to leave on the cutting room floor.
Why? Because your past needs to coherently lead up to your favorite outcome.
This is where a-ha moments abound, where you'll realize where you're cherishing whole swaths of your past that may actually be resisting where you most want your life to flow.
This step may take some time. You'll need time to absorb the revelations, then a little more time to start making big plans!
NOTE: this isn't about looking at your past with rose-tinted glasses or denying that the past ever happened. This exercise is about appreciating what in your past actually aligns with what you want to get out of life. The part of your story that, when juxtaposed with the outcome, actually seems really lovely, maybe even tragicomic or heroic.
Life isn't going to turn out perfect. And in the end, ya die. So, this is the last time for clinging to the woe-as-mesies about your bad childhood or berating that ex-boyfriend who swindled you out of your virginity.
Moving forward, you should take the pieces of the story that make your ideal outcomes feel very vindicating when they do arrive.
For inspo, here's a clip of the final scenes of American Beauty (1999). Pay attention to Spacey's voiceover (& try not to burst into tears):
STEP #5: SELF-INVENT.
From this point on, strike this phrase from your vocabulary: It’s just not who I am.
That phrase, that heinous, poisonous sentence...
It’s the invocation of people who resist personal evolution.
I have to reveal my motive for writing this post: I want to heal the sick-sick-sadness I feel whenever I meet a grown women who still defines herself by childhood events. My parents were cruel, I was held back 2 grades, we moved around a lot, the babysitter's boyfriend molested me, I was bullied.
We are ALWAYS entitled to feel how we feel. And none of us should stand in the way of someone who is finally making conscious the shadowy events inflicted on them as young babes. Let the girl feel. Let her make it conscious & real, so she can stare it down & finally evolve.
My beef, though: Allowing other people's shadow-drama to control your destiny. My sadness comes from now-grown & powerful women who will not budge beyond identities formed & forged while they were young adults. The roadblock in the way of soul evolution comes when you choose to identify as the Victim.
These once-victimized women, when presented with the opportunity for heroism, vindication, & preservation of worldly innocence, will balk.
I'm not balking! It's just who I am. Let me tell you about what happened to me...
What I learned from recreating my own myth: Who you think you are is just a default. And you can replace that default identity with a new self-concept.
If you're ready to remake your myth & thereby alter your destiny, you have to start believing that you can choose your traits as well as your goals.
And bridging that gap between who you are & who you want to be depends on consciously practicing the traits that will make your ideal destiny inevitable.
Anything you don’t want…
…I’ve always thought of myself as a cute nerd, but I’m falling behind my friends, who all seem to be Adult’ing… I’m embarrassed that I might make the kinds of mistakes & compromises I've always laughed at older people for making…
…I wake up & fall asleep feeling regret… I can’t stop feeling awful over a bad choice I made years ago… & I suspect it’s had a domino effect on my decision-making since then…
…I have hit the snooze on my alarm every single morning—including weekends—for 2 years. I’m starting to think I simply don’t have the cajones to actually write a book / learn to dance / start my own biz, because I just can’t get myself into the habit of doing it…
…can be replaced. Transplanted with the thoughts, feelings, & habits that will produce the experiences you crave.
Easier said than done, right?
But this is where the Great Work starts. The Myth is just one element you'll need to start alchemizing your life.
So, okay. You've read all 5 steps for remaking your myth. Now you have to memorize your notes, then walk off into the Mystery to start living as that newly-minted myth. You can't even tune into the other elements you'll need to fully transform yourself until you start telling the story differently.
Remember, life is active. Life doesn't doesn’t happen to us. @@It’s not the experiences themselves that shape us, but the way we shape ourselves to fit our experiences. We are self-created.@@ We create who we are through how we tell our lives.
@@Can there be an objective version of your life? No. You are your life authority.@@ There may be alternate interpretations to events, but your feelings about those events are subjective facts.
You are the locus of your own reality; the heart of your personal universe.
If you want to remake the world, start with yourself.
Believe in your own myth.
**end soapbox moment**
Have a truelife myth-remaking experience you'd like to share? Consider posting it to Hella•Namaste! You can do a short essay, video, audio, or even tell it through panels of art. I'll link to it from this post & give it its own address of residence here on the blog.
I'm waiting to hear your story.
Love & magic,
Images via Pinterest. Help me credit the creator(s) here.