You’ve heard the story of Hansel and Gretel, right?
So. Things looked pretty bleak for them. But they were a savvy duo, and by the end of the story they’d proved their courage and resilience. Not only did they beat the witch at her own game and shove her into the oven when she least expected it, but they also discovered a treasure-trove of riches. Enough to last a lifetime.
And then, they did something a little strange: they went home.
They went back to that place of pain and sorrow.
A few years ago I was at a seminar listening to Jonathan Young (my favorite psychologist/storyteller) recount the tale of Hansel and Gretel. During the break, chatting with my table-mate, I was struck by their choice to go home.
“It’s kind of amazing,” I concluded, “that they decided to go back to that place.
At that precise moment Dr. Young walked by. He looked at me and said, “But you know why they have to go home, don’t you?”
I did know.
Hansel and Gretel had to return home to fully claim their story.
Our deepest stories, both light and dark.
At least, psychologically speaking, that is.
And if we don’t come home to ourselves and all of our stories, especially the challenging ones, we risk cutting ourselves off from the growth and wisdom embedded in those stories.
Now, I know it’s popular these days to talk about rewriting your challenging stories or ditching them, because, well, they’re just too limiting.
Let’s love them up.
Let’s dive down into them.
Let’s acknowledge that, like Hansel and Gretel, we have a story of abandonment holding hands with a story of courage and resilience. Or for the artist in us, a story of creative imagination holding hands with a story of prima-donna perfectionism.
By loving up our stories we bring awareness to them.
All the recent research seems to say that we can’t actually change or let go of our stories and thoughts.
But through awareness we can step back and put some space between us and them when we feel pulled in.
So let’s stop dissing our limiting stories, shall we?
I mean, ouch!
Why would we do that to ourselves?
There are so many kinder ways to bring awareness to the depths of our amazing stories. Like creating paper dolls out of them, which is what I’m doing today for art every day month.
And that’s why I love stories. Yours. Mine. Everyone’s.
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