We Are Homo Narrativus!

Book, Landscape, Nature, Wind, Weather

As a linguistic anthropologist I suggest we could call the human species Homo Narrativus.  We are Storytellers! What else? Not only do we tell the myths and legends of our peoples to teach our cultural values and heroic ideals to the next generations; we also cast and recall our personal life experiences in narrative form.  

Creation stories. mythology, fiction, television and movie dramas, and history itself harbor narratives we tell about our collective past.  As individuals, we each have our own Life Story, complete with Life Chapters, Themes, and our own internal ensemble cast of unconscious archetypal characters as well as our external dramatis personae of social relationships, that altogether comprise our ever-unfolding personal story from which we gather experience and learn and share meaningful lessons.

People, Ice, Snow, Exploration, One, Man

My interview research about how people conceptualize life events (Your Life Path, 2018: Skyhorse Publishers) revealed three primary genres of Life Story narratives: Epic Adventure (either comic or tragic), Cyclic, or Seamless.  Which is yours?  Epic adventurers tell stories of their heroic adventures (Departures, Fulfillment, and if ‘comic’, heroic Returns) cast in terms Joseph Campbell called the Soul’s High Adventure.   Some prefer to think of their life as organized by cycles: 7-year, 10-year decades, or 12-years or more; the ending of one cycle opening to the beginning of the next, bringing flexibility and fresh opportunities.  Still others would rather live their lives as picaresque adventures, welcoming randomity and enjoying life’s little surprises, ready to navigate crossroads as they arise and more focused on the journey than any destination points. 

Journey, Walk, Steps, Street
Seasons Of The Year, Year, Tree, Nature
Chain, Chain Link, Connection, Related

Images are from pixabay.com

The Principle of Better Endings, then, is a narrative device within our creative Homo Narrativus survival toolkit that we can use to reflect on where we are at in our Life Story and how we got here, so we can envision or shape our next steps in the direction of our highest desires.

Better Endings to You!

Listening to Your-SELVES: A Balancing Act

Theater Masks

Welcome to Prompts Day at Better Endings. On Tuesdays we entertain a list of topics for applying the principle of Better Endings to a weekly theme; this week, Attitudes. Some speak of a “Law of Attitudes,” which makes sense to me. Our attitudes to a large extent determine our experience. Attitudes reflect and can establish “mindsets,” which act like filters between our minds or hearts and the “reality” we are able to perceive.

Let’s consider especially opposing, paired attitudes this week. These are polar-opposite perspectives that frame very different outlooks on the same event or situation. Here’s a list of some paired-opposite attitudes for you to consider and add to:

optimistic            pessimistic

open            closed

impatience            contentment

       insecurity            self-confidence

   belief            cynicism

expansive            narrow

kindness            meanness

acceptance           rejection

constructive            destructive

respectful            demeaning

gratitude            conceit

Can you recognize within yourself BOTH poles of one or more of the above pairs of opposing attitudes with regard to some situation or enduring conflict in your life? I invite you to choose that sort of opposition to explore. Consider a subject that you can “look at” from either of a very opposite pair of perspectives. Allow yourself the space to feel-think-Be first in one attitude, and then shift grounds to the polar-opposite attitude about that same subject and feel-think-Be in that attitude instead for a while. What do you pay most attention to, in each perspective? What appears more important, and less important, depending on your outlook? What about the subject itself motivates you to shift more to one or the other side of the polarity?

Recognizing duality or bipolarity in ourselves, especially around ideas or situations we feel conflicted about, is natural for everyone, sometimes. From an archetypal psychological viewpoint, situations that evoke conflicting attitudes can expose to us ‘parts’ of ourselves that are worth listening to and exploring–in moderation–because we may tend to suppress some ‘sides’ of ourself at the expense of a whole, balanced, integrated outlook. Allowing an attitude you normally suppress to express itself while you are there to pay attention to it can help you to get to the root of some issues you might otherwise be denying or seeing only from a self-limiting perspective. These ‘buried’ attitudes can help you to troubleshoot a stubborn point of view in order to develop some more balanced and creative solutions!

Jester Juggler Juggling Balls Retro

For today,simply choose one or more of the above attitude-pairs–or use another–that represents a set of opposing attitudes you sometimes hold about some situation or subject in your life. Let both sides have their say, either through journalling from each perspective, or engaging in an imaginative internal ‘listening session’ to both sides, one at a time. The only guideline is that each side gets to have its say without judgement or interruption. Then, try looking at the situation again, AFTER clearly expressing both of your opposed attitudes.

Does a creative solution or a deeper understanding of the situation light up for you?

Tell us about it (if you’d like). If you wish you can submit your story or journalling practice as a Story of the Week (If I receive more than one, I’ll probably blog them all!) And always, I welcome your insights and Comments!

Better Endings to You!  – Linda