Your Life Story

“Some people think we’re made of flesh and blood and bones. Scientists say we’re made of atoms. But I think we are made of stories. When we die, that’s what people remember, the stories of our lives and the stories that we told.” Ruth Stotter.

Life story writing. Autobiography. You might wonder, “Why would I take time to do that?” Or, “Isn’t that just something to do when you’ve reached an age where you want to create a record to pass along to your family?”

Of course it is certainly worthwhile to document one’s life as a gift to generations to come. And what we work on together could in part be used for that purpose. But life story writing and exploration is more than that. Much more.

Why Engage in a Life Story Project?

  • To raise self-awareness & self-understanding.

  • To seek healing and transformation.

  • To receive insight on vocation and calling.

  • To cultivate and enhance appreciation of relationships.

  • To recognize one’s sense or personal power and agency.

  • To gain greater clarity around future life options and life stage transitions.

  • To explore new or expand spiritual paths.

  • To enhance understanding around life purpose and meaning.

  • To share one’s life experience and insights with others.

  • To leave a recorded history for future family generations.

Explore the Details

Purposes & Benefits

As ever-evolving and goal-seeking beings, we are each on our unique developmental path. The guided life story process is an important component of a holistic approach to self-discovery that can serve as a catalyst for growth. Through autobiography we come to see both what has happened and then, through a process of analysis and reflection, what it all uniquely means to you. As author Carlos Gebler has noted, “The story was in two acts: act one, what happened, act two, what I understood.” We come to know more about our self-identity and the characters that comprise a multi-faceted and multi-storied self. The influence of society, culture, and family come into greater focus.

There are also emotional, healing, and transformative aspects to autobiography. As noted by James Birren, one of the founders of the field of gerontology, “Stories of life offer not only new knowledge but also provide pathways to helping all persons – including the helpless and hopeless – heal the bruises of life.” Educator Joanne Cooper says, 

“Telling our own stories is a way to impose form upon our often chaotic experiences and, in the process, to develop our own voice. Listening to our own stories is a way for us to nourish, encourage, and sustain ourselves, to enter into a caring relationship with all the parts of our self.”

Insights gained from a life story review can even help in how we come to understand and improve our relationships with others. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “He then learns that in going down into the secrets of his own mind, he has descended into the secrets of all minds.”

Through the act of learning more about who we are, of making this knowledge about our lives and our experiences more conscious, we are best prepared to design and live meaningful future chapters of our lives. As Carl Jung, the psychologist noted, “Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” Within one’s own deeply personal story lies access to the heart.

One way to apply the knowledge and insight gained through autobiographical reflection is by developing our uniquely personal way of engaging with and contributing to the communities that surround and nourish us. This is an especially important aspect of the second half of life, when generativity, or a concern for promoting and building future generations, takes on a larger significance. Living a generative life is one well-researched component of finding meaning as we age, and is an example of how self-knowledge is to be applied for a broader purpose, and not merely for a self-centered exposé.

You may be thinking, “Well, I don’t have that much to say regarding my story. It’s pretty uneventful.” Or, “My story is not very interesting.” Henry James, the novelist, said, “Adventures happen to people who know how to tell it that way.” Everyone has had “adventures” and life chapters consisting of wide-ranging experiences. Many times we just need a little guidance and support to bring forth these stories and help them find their voice and their significance.

The Process

Working on one’s autobiography can certainly be done as a solo exercise. However, research has shown, when using autobiography as a means to explore and develop self-understanding, engaging with another individual can be very helpful. Dialogue adds a critical dimension to the process. My methods are grounded in autobiographical scholarship and a deep respect for each individual’s unique and moving story.

During our no obligation, no fee initial conversation, we will discuss any specific goals you have for conducting your highly personal autobiographical project. I can also provide ideas and suggestions for what you might want to pursue.

I offer two approaches to working with you. I have a basic level package that includes four private sessions with me, including one to conduct an oral interview and one to discuss the interpretations, meaning, and lessons from your life story. I will provide all documentation necessary to guide you through exercises that contribute to the creation and analysis of your life story along with a transcript of our interview.

The second option is completely custom. Building upon the basic package, we may add longer or additional oral interviews. The process of collecting more life story information orally adds an important dimension to the experience and to tapping into relevant information. This option also provides greater latitude in expanding and customizing the questions that guide our joint exploration and permits more time and techniques to be allocated to the life story analysis process.

Regardless of which option you choose, at the conclusion of our time together I will provide a written summary of the entire process. This will integrate both my analysis and thoughts along with those you provide. In addition, you may choose to create a summary product that is highly personal. For example, this may be some type of artwork, a poem, a mandala, or a letter to the self.

We proceed at your pace that is comfortable for you. There are no required deadlines. However, I have found it generally works best to establish a timeline to help keep us on track. It is reasonable to complete the basic level process in 6-7 weeks.

Further Options

You may feel once we have completed your autobiographical project there are specific topics you would like to pursue in greater detail. We can always add additional oral interviews, writing exercises, or more in-depth work on an action plan to target any changes you would like to make. Other options are outlined in the Story Expansion section. These include storytelling with guided imagery, investigating concerns and feelings via color selection, and an assessment of your personality preferences. I provide the Story Expansion exercises on a standalone basis as well, but I am happy to offer a discount to anyone who has completed at minimum the basic level life story package.

If you wish to create a bound, hardcover book as a result of our work together that is an option as well.

“Just realize where you come from: This is the essence of wisdom.”
Lao Tzu