Throughout history humans have walked this journey called life using myths and stories for direction or guidance along the way. From the Petroglyphs of caves, to more modern times, stories have guided us along our journey. As a culture there is an agreed upon meaning of what is important, and what is not, that are often reflected within these stories. The use of archetypes & metaphors has long been used as a way to teach one how best to navigate this journey through life. However, our society has lost awareness of the power of story. We no longer have, or use, the myths and stories our ancestors used to guide us in walking “the hero’s journey.” The book Navigating the Future by Mikela Tarlow suggests that “we are in trouble personally and culturally because we lack transitional stories. We don’t have myths that can take us from one set of beliefs to another.”

We no longer have the minstrels, troubadours, or the oral tradition of story telling from the past. Therefore, our current stories are often detrimental to our journey through life - walking alone in the darkness created by the stories we created based on our erroneous beliefs, or those handed down to us. Stories can act as a medicine or poison to our lives. Over the course of time our stories pagan symbols were replaced by Christian ones, often altering the very messages themselves. In the book Women Who Run With the Wolves Dr. Estes shares stories created to empower women to once again connect with the power of the “wild woman” story. The “wild woman” is defined as having “good instincts, passionate creativity, and ageless knowing.” Dr. Estes recovers the meanings once lost among the edited versions, thus collecting the essence of the stories once shared; assisting women to walk in the footprints of other women who have journeyed before them.

Today many are left without the deep connection this oral tradition once held. Without direction stories are created that become the poison rather than the medicine once shared. As children we have wild and vivid imaginations and often create stories to feel safe, loved, important, etc. However, these stories can also be influenced by those around us, albeit not always in a positive way. Therefore, dysfunctional stories can become the metaphor or story guiding one on the journey through life; rather than walking this journey with the guidance and wisdom from those who have gone before us.

Unless we become aware of these stories residing within us we have no chance of changing or transcending them. We will become stuck playing the roles assigned us, as well as continue to assign roles to all those we come in contact with. It is as if we continue walking the same path over and over again expecting to change our destination without changing the road we are on. Individuals become defined by their stories and often resist any suggestion that would threaten this sense of self. However, if these stories become disruptive, an individual can fall into the victim role and be trapped by the story itself. We have all been around those individuals who continue to describe the same story over and over seeking any individual willing to listen. If their story is challenged in any way it is often perceived as a personal attack – remember they identify with it.

As a psychotherapist I have learned to approach this in a way that helps clients reinvent themselves or transcend their stories. However, they must first understand how they themselves are the story teller. To see that the road they walk along is perhaps paved with erroneous beliefs, sometimes held within the subconscious mind, we must reconnect with this part of them. You cannot create a new story if the old one is still holding space, so we must first release the hold the old story has on an individual. As humans we store our emotions & memories on an energetic level. Often these are inaccessible to our conscious minds, and can consist of dysfunctional beliefs & traumatic memories from past experiences or old stories we carry within us.

Our thoughts are energetically charged. Therefore, to promote healing & consciously co-create a desirable life, one must re-establish communication between the conscious mind & the subconscious mind to correct these dysfunctional patterns. Therefore, I often invite my clients to tell their stories while using a form of Energy Psychology to assist them in releasing the energetic hold their story has on them. This is much like pressing a reset button, or rewiring a circuit, to create a new (functional) energy flow between the conscious & subconscious mind; thus re-write the story desired.

There is ample evidence indicating the importance of this method of somatic (physical) experience for accessing & healing deep trauma, as well as reversing erroneous beliefs at an energetic level. This principle operates at the cellular level of the body, which is where memories & emotions are actually stored, rather than just the brain. In order to retrieve & reframe dysfunctional stories at this level, one must follow the same path back to the state in which the dysfunction occurred. In the popular film “What the bleep…” Candace Pert & others briefly describe this method of storing information at a cellular level, as well as the importance of reframing information for lasting change. By returning and walking the path where the story originated one can see how it actually began and rewrite a new healthier version, or perhaps choose to walk down a new path all together.

In many indigenous cultures the power of story is still honored, and as a result the entire culture supports one along this path called life. I’ve included one of my favorite below:

One evening an old Cherokee Indian told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, ‘My son, the battle is between two ‘wolves’ inside us all. One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.
The other is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.’
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: ‘Which wolf wins?’
The old Cherokee simply replied, ‘The one you feed.’

Perhaps as we transcend the stories that no longer serve us, a return to the myths and stories of the past are what we need to guide us on our journey into a more enlightened future.

Author's Bio: 

Sherry O’Brian, LCSW, NBCCH, DCEP, is the sole proprietor of Mind/Body/Spirit Inner-grations & specializes in personal growth & transformation; as well as working with those suffering from chronic illness, grief/loss & other emotional disorders. She also facilitates support groups for cancer patients and their family members; facilitates retreats for The Peaceful Woman; as well as develops seminars & workshops on mind/body/spirit healing as an independent contractor for several professional organizations.

She has integrated Energy Psychology into her life both professionally & personally. As a motivational speaker & psychotherapist workshops focus on mind/body/spirit healing & personal growth. Sharing innovative often cutting edge techniques to inspire, motivate & empower individuals. She is a Reiki Master & Ordained minister & assists others in reconnecting with their Divine Essence. Sherry has written several articles on energy-based psychotherapy, hypnotherapy & guided imagery. She has developed a meditation CD “Release & Transform Burden: a meditation to awaken the healing light within” to assist others in releasing emotional pain & transform their lives.

Sherry has over thirteen years experience in the oncology field, as well as seventeen years within the field of mental health. She is certified in Comprehensive Energy Psychology, Emotional Freedom Technique, Advanced Clinical Hypnotherapy, Psych-K™, Subtle Energy Therapy, Bereavement Counseling, & Guided Imagery.

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