You are the key protagonist of your Life Story. Contemporary cognitive scientists say there is an adaptive psychological need for a human being to mentally and emotionally construct a “coherent self,” one that undergoes a series of holistically interwoven experiences which we can call your Significant Life Events, or SLE’s. We recall these significant events situationally. That means we each recognize specific KINDS of events in our lives that have played important roles in our Life Story. This varies from person to person. While Family events might be paramount for one person,Work or Spirituality, or Relationships, or Health might be more central for somebody else. We all recognize several of these categories or kinds of significant events in our lives. They overlap. Some situations tend to lift us Up, others might hold us Down, and still other kinds of situations that recur in our lives may help us to maintain a welcome balance from day to day.
Next week, we will call these KINDS of Significant Life Events your Life Themes. You will discover which Life Themes are present in your life and what sort of patterning or influence they have. This week, let’s set you on your personal adventure with the Life Mapping Activity of the Week (see right sidebar to participate). In this week’s posts let’s talk about how Significant Life Events can relate to Better Endings.
An SLE is an event or a time frame in your life which has “influenced or shaped the person you have become”. There is no fixed, “correct” or complete number of these events in your life, but any time you reflect back you are likely to recall a sampling of those kinds of events that have been most relevant to you from your current or present perspective. The Life Mapping activity I offer to you this week asks you to make list of at least 12 of these SLE’s. List them in whatever order they come to mind, then you can arrange them chronologically if you like. In my upcoming book and self-help handbook, Life Paths, I will include a set of forms you can use to plot these SLE’s visually, but it is enough this week for you just to list 12 representative events.
Here are some basic questions to get you started in recalling your significant events:
- What was the earliest life event that you remember? Why or how was it significant in shaping the “person you have become”?
- What have been some of your “best times” and some of the “worst times” you have known? How have they influenced your choices along the way and who you are today?
In my own life, Significant Life Events have been like punctuation points, where my memory lands when I reflect upon past, present and possible futures. I think of the first lucid dream I had at about 4 years old; it was about a gorilla that follows me into my house and upstairs to where I pretend to be sleeping in my bed while it puts a kitchen knife to my throat and I wake up screaming! Or for a much happier SLE, I recall being Student Director for two plays in high school and how the Director–my favorite English teacher, Mr. Scelsa–inspired me to go to college to become a teacher myself and to study literature, language, drama and philosophy.
All good literature arranges the key characters’ SLE’s to create dramatic, interweaving plot lines. Much of poetry and art figuratively or sometimes even literally freezes or “frames” an SLE sort of experience as a multi-dimensional Moment.
I invite you to list at least 12 SLE’s this week as an entry to reconstructing your own personal dramatic narrative. Yet, I encourage you to approach this rather lightly–as a fun, creative process rather than as a challenging task. Please, do go lightly. You only need to scratch the surface at this stage in order to “round up” a basic sampling of your significant, life shaping memories. Later I will help you to discover how each of these memories, no matter how happy or sad, has allowed you to develop the repertoire of Strengths you now possess. These are Strengths you can use to forge ahead in creating, yes, your own Better Endings.
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- On calendars. On butterflies. On gardens. On life. (wellthisiswhatithink.wordpress.com)
- synchronicity and meaning (kluskuschronicles.wordpress.com)
- Self-narratives and autonomy [by lisa bortolotti] (kolber.typepad.com)