May/June 2012, Pg 15
What Story Are You Living?
By Catherine Ann Jones
To be a person is to have a story to tell.
The stories we tell ourselves both sustain and become who we are. Focused Journaling can be a powerful tool for healing wounds and furthering our own growth as a human being. An only child, I began at age twelve writing in journals. The journal became my best friend, my confidante, and began, for me, a path of self-discovery. Later, earning my living as an actor then playwright in New York City, followed by a career as a television and screenwriter in Hollywood, I have experienced writing as a way of understanding not only myself, but also the world and others.
Whose life are you living? What is the first thing which popped into your mind when you read this sentence, “Whose life are you living?”
Home is where our stories begin, so let’s first explore our family or origin.
Sometimes we assume we are living our life when we are instead living the life a parent or spouse expects of us. Is this so with you?
Nothing has a stronger influence on children,
Of course, it may not always be a parent’s influence. We may be living a life based on someone else, someone we admire and wish to be like. Or it might be a highly respected teacher or mentor, or even a public icon we’ve never actually met. There is another internal pressure, sometimes subtle and unspoken, sometimes not. This is the pressure to achieve - or not achieve - something desired by either parent or other, and not fulfilled by them. Either may cause the same block. For instance, a parent may outwardly seem to encourage the child to succeed, yet inwardly, unconsciously, be envious of their own child.
Don’t live someone else’s life.
Remember we are here to grow and evolve towards wholeness. If already perfect, there would be no need to remain. It is all process – the process of soul evolution.
How to know if you are living the life you are meant to live? How to know yourself? The stories we tell ourselves determine to a great extent who we appear to be to others – and often even to ourselves. Authenticity is crucial in the path to healing and to self-discovery. The stories we tell ourselves become who we are.
Sometimes who we think we are may change, and to accept the change is to be true to our authentic self. Paul Gauguin was married with five children and working as a stock broker and businessman when he became depressed and even attempted suicide. He was not living an authentic life. So he chose to radically change his life. He left his lucrative job, his family, and ended up painting in Tahiti, and the rest is history.
During my years in India, I was struck by the concept of ‘dharma’. In Sanskrit, dharma means law or order. Dharma is the law of your existence or your true inner calling, and is much more than a job or vocation. It is said that to follow dharma wholeheartedly will invite invisible allies to come to your aid and support. It is written in ancient texts that it is better to be a good sweeper than a bad king - if being a sweeper is your dharma path. So when we turn within to feel what our dharma is, it is vital to be honest about what stirrings are there. For instance, I know a remarkable woman who was a successful, corporate lawyer, and not happy. She went back to school and became an elementary school teacher. Last year, she won a teaching award for the State of Washington, and remains passionate about teaching children!
Achieve goals which are truly appropriate for you and your soul’s growth.
In my years as a free lance writer in New York and later in Hollywood, I found this to be totally true. This is not to say it is always an easy path but certainly a fulfilling one. And there often seems to be some power at work to take care of those who follow their bliss. To honor what is deepest in one’s self is what ultimately matters. This means to dedicate yourself to achieve those goals which are most appropriate for you and your soul’s growth. This has nothing to do with fame or money, but rather what is your soul’s bidding, what will enable your soul to grow.
The first and foremost step is to accept who you are. Everything else follows.
Your limitations are not set by who you are but rather who you think you’re not.
The people who are put in high regard and given much respect are those who are confident enough to believe in themselves. And it is far easier to believe in yourself if you are being an authentic self and doing what you are meant to do.
(Excerpts from Heal Yourself with Writing (Michael Weise Publisher) due out later this year.)
CATHERINE ANN JONES, award-winning author, playwright & screenwriter whose films include UNLIKELY ANGEL, THE CHRISTMAS WIFE, and the popular series, TOUCHED BY AN ANGEL. A Fulbright Research Scholar to India studying shamanism and winner of the National Endowment for the Arts Award, her book, The Way of Story: the craft & soul of writing, is required for NYU and other schools. A graduate of Pacifica Graduate Institute where she has also taught, she works as a writing consultant, keynote speaker, and teaches internationally. For online courses & schedule visit www.wayofstory.com