What Is the Life Maps Process and How Did I Develop It?
by Dr. Linda Watts
Several years ago I struggled through what at the time I called my mid-life crisis. I paid close attention to my dreams while asking inwardly, ‘Where to from here?’ One morning I woke to the following words blazoned in bold black letters before my inner vision:
YOU HAVE THE RESPONSIBILITY
TO REALIZE YOUR DREAMS,
NOT JUST FOR GETTING BY.
This Vision prompted a lot of reflection on my part. What WERE my life dreams, anyway? I was frustrated with the ‘pure academic’ life of a professor. I wanted to find a way to integrate my more creative interests and public service values into my career. But, how?
A few months later I came up for a sabbatical. What subject would I research? I woke one morning to another very clear wake-up call, this time in the form of a direct inner voice that simply spoke two words:
At first I really had no idea what this phrase even meant. Life Paths? But I did sense instinctively that this was the topic I wanted to focus on for my sabbatical study. So, to start exploring how people talk about and think about their lives, I developed a study of Life Metaphors that people commonly express. I developed a simple, graphic life mapping technique based on interviews with thirty people of various ages and backgrounds. I looked at relationships between the Life Metaphors they expressed to me and patterns they charted from reconstructing a sequence of some of the most memorable events from their lives.
For example, to you, is Life like a roller coaster ride? Is it a spiraling path leading to an infinite life beyond or is it rather quite the opposite seeming at times, a dismal descent into eventual oblivion? I’m sure you have your own mental images and scenarios about what a human life—yours!—is like. If you think about it, you might find your current Life Metaphor relates in interesting ways to typical patterns of your life or to specific situations in your life right now.
Figure 1 illustrates a Life Map for Scott (pseudonyms used). Notice how Scott’s Life Map shows a lot of “up and down” movement in his color-coded Life Themes, especially for Work/Service (in blue) and Health (in maroon). Life Themes are TYPES of significant events in a person’s life. Also, it appears that Scott has used Travel events (in green), specifically relocation to land a new job–and then to move back to his home state after losing that job–to try to in his own words “jump start” his life after low periods.
Figure 1. A Sample Life Map: Scott. (click image to enlarge)
A Life Metaphor that Scott provided before creating his Life Map was: “Life starts slow and speeds up”. Notice how Scott’s Life Map reflects this image well! I have discovered over the past twelve years for as many as 475 people whom I have introduced to the Life Maps Process that there is always a close relationship between the Life Metaphors people express and patterns of Life Themes evident in their Life Maps.
So, this is how I started developing what gradually unfolded into the Life Maps Process. I have found that people who engage in a life mapping process gain strength and inspiration. Most realize that they have encountered plenty of obstacles in their lives, but since they have faced those challenges and survived, they have emerged with greater strength and wisdom for meeting future challenges and reaching their deepest goals based on all they have learned along the way.
Through a series of interview studies based on scholarly research into theories of the life course, archetypal psychology and comparative mythology, then through eventually developing a full program of creative personal development tools, I have developed the Life Maps Process. This is a fun, engaging self-help program with many creative techniques that can help you to clearly map out your life to arrive at some very useful and meaningful insights.
The Life Maps Process conducts you through three, Rites of Passage based stages of self-exploration and discovery:
Life Review (Life Mapping);
Life Reflection (or, Descent and Exploration) ; and
Future Life Re-Modeling (or, Emergence and Realization)
You have the power within you right now to expand and to fully maximize your greatest life potentials. Like Dorothy or the Tin Man, Scarecrow, Lion, and Toto from the Wizard of Oz, you already possess within you all the Inner Resources you need, right now, to allow this happen. The Life Maps Process is a Rite of Passage that can guide you on your own personal Quest to reclaim your Life Dream and to Live Your Dream, Now!
So, welcome aboard! I invite you to Take the Journey!
To see some sample life maps, click here!