The strangest stories are usually the true life ones. Take Marnie (not her real name), who recollected as a child ingrade 3 how she would roll a large piece of art paper around herself and stand in a corner. Her teacher would try to get her to come out; the other children would make fun of her. Eventually, they just ignored her and she stayed, sometimes for a whole morning, standing rolled up in that large sheet of art paper.

Talking about it years later still makes her feel uncomfortable, knowing that it was bizarre behaviour; recalling how strange her friends thought she was and being told even now, that she must have been a weird child. Her judgment of herself was that she was indeed weird. Although she understood her need to close herself off from what had been a fairly traumatic time, with her parents going through a messy and unhappy divorce, Marnie believed that this childhood experience set the pattern for her to shut out any unpleasantness in her life. What she learned to do was to throw herself into activity, mainly work, in order to avoid facing difficult relationships in her personal life.

Marnie's healing journey began after a long-term relationship broke apart and she fell into a depression. All of her old messages returned to her. She believed that she would never be able to sustain any kind of a relationship with anyone, even friends, since she was too hurt, too defensive and too weird for anyone to want to get close to her. She decided to seek help and turned to counselling. After I had met with Marnie a few times, I invited her to attend a story-telling session, since it seemed that she had much to relate and needed to do this in a safe environment.

After Marnie heard me tell one of my stories of childhood, she wrote her own story of the times she rolled herself up in that sheet of art paper. Reading the story back was a powerful experience for her. Instead of seeing herself as strange, she understood that the 'child Marnie' had a positive and powerful message for her. She realized that she had been asking, without knowing how, her teacher and her school friends to listen to her hurt and to know that she needed care and protection. They had not known how to deal with it at all.

Marnie has now discovered how to connect with that small girl in herself. Now, when she catches herself avoiding something that might bring her into conflict with somebody, she knows that she has to nurture herself and to listen to the inner panic of that earlier, small person hiding inside the roll of paper. How did she do that? In telling her own story. She heard its real truth for her as she is today. In being heard, she gradually gained belief and confidence in herself.

Writing your own stories is an effective and powerful way to gain greater self- understanding. You can do this alone, or preferably with a friend. Even better, find a small group where you can share some of your stories. The crucial ingredient is a safe, non-judgemental environment where each person's story is valued and honoured.

If you want to do this alone at first, let your mind wander to any early recollection. Even if all you get is a small, vague fragment of memory, you'll be amazed, as you begin to write your story, how it opens up in front of you. Try writing it in the present tense, first person; as though it is happening to you right now. This gives it more immediacy and allows you to include the feelings going on at the time. When you have finished writing, read it aloud to yourself. Finally, give yourself a big acknowledgment for allowing your creative self to meet your inner child.

The connection between you now and you then almost always has a healing and growing effect that is worthy of celebration.

Author's Bio: 

Warren Redman trained in the UK as a psychotherapist, facilitator and coach and has developed his own unique style of Emotional Fitness Coaching. He is president of the Emotional Fitness Institute (formally the Centre for Inner Balancing), writing, teaching and coaching people in Emotional Fitness. He is the author of fifteen books, including the Award-winning The 9 steps to Emotional Fitness, Achieving Personal Success and Recipes for Inner Peace.

Warren is now teaching other coaches about Emotional Fitness, both in Calgary and through Distance Learning Courses in other areas. For more information on Training in Emotional Fitness please visit

To contact Warren please e-mail or call 1-866-310-3348 (EFit)