April felt like an Orphan through much of her childhood; though she was the middle child of five she always felt—somehow—like an outsider. She slept in odd places: basements, attics, as if she was always trying to be somewhere else. She did have friends in her sisters and a best friend. Her introverted nature led her to books and games of creative fantasy. Then she discovered writing: poetry, journals, science fiction/ fantasy, and later, anthropology: other vistas, other worlds.
What personal character qualities have you developed as a result of the influences you can identify in your Origin Story (“I am who I am today because…”)?
Two ways to review and reflect on how your Formative Influences have affected you include:
1) Try writing in a narrative story fashion, as practiced in the story above . This is a reflective, subjective approach. It’s a fine way to express how the FEELINGS of your Inner Self have developed; or
2) You can review your shaping experience factors from significant memories, identifying kinds of influences. This is more of an ‘objective’ or descriptive approach.
The most common influences people mention affecting “I am who I am today because…” include:
- People, especially family members/ parents or siblings; also friends, mentors, or role models
- Events with either strong positive or negative impacts
- Belief systems
- Educational influences
- Actions (by others or your own)
- Choices and their consequences
For me, while the story above expresses my subjective responses to early influences, I could also identify more specific shaping factors:
#1: Family: a mixed bag because my father’s highly critical nature affected my early shyness/ introversion; still in retrospect I learned so much: excellence as a work ethic standard; support from/of my siblings and others; I was my father’s 2nd son while a teen (waxed car, mowed & trimmed lawn; was somewhat a scapegoat and learned to placate my father in a codependent way); I became an athlete/fencer through college years which helped me to develop a stronger character. I learned to be outwardly tough when needed, though inwardly I was oversensitive and harbored an inferiority and shyness complex as the “runt of the family/ unattractive” compared with siblings;
#2: Friends, including my companion pet friends: loyalty, companionship, caregiving, honesty, enjoyment of life; but also loss, and how to overcome codependency;
#3: Beliefs, which have led me to adopt spiritual practices of daily contemplation, dream journaling, and that have involved me in many group leadership roles and opportunities and allow me to feel connected with people from several circles;
#4 Education: knowledge, awareness, social connections, a love of teaching, mentors
#5 Writing (and Reading): always an avocation and a professional vocation (journaling, poetry, philosophy, dream journals, sci-fi, academics, personal development genres); continually expanding.
OVERALL: These influences have led to a life pattern of INCORPORATIVE GROWTH and Individuation / Introspection/ Adaptability
As I review this list of my Formative Influences as an example of how you might develop your own Origin Story, I notice that without intending to do so, I have recreated precisely the set of Life Themes that appear in my basic Life Map. (I’ll be offering some activities to help you to identify some of your own Life Themes and to construct a basic Life Map in coming weeks.)
What factors have helped you to develop your most positive character traits? Which, instead, have posed challenges or have led to fears, inhibitions or self-limiting concepts?
You may experiment by writing from who you are internally, based on your Origin Story. This could be in any medium: narrative, poetry, photo montages, a collage,...
Hints: Regard yourself as the central protagonist of your own Life Story (as you are!). What are your hopes? Fears? Expectations? Conflicts? Patterns? Goals? Basic Feelings? What are your Needs?
Later I will be inviting you to reflect on some of these influences from your Forge of Experience in relation both to your recurring Life Themes and to some “Archetypal” qualities you will be able to identify that are unconscious companions, intrinsic parts of your holistic Self that form an “ensemble cast” of potential Ally characters.
Please remember one thing as you begin to explore your own Life Path: You are absolutely unique (Margaret Mead would add, “just like everybody else!”) There has never been and there never will be again, ever in the entire history of Creation, the specific person, with the unique Soul/character consciousness that YOU ARE!! Your unique character and consciousness are the basis of and contain the seeds of your greatest potentials; they carry the Life Dream that you alone have the Responsibility along with the definite CAPACITY to Realize!
Above slide from : Ajaytao
I welcome your Comments, Insights and Stories!
(I intend for this site to be interactive and open to all points of view/ backgrounds. I received by email the story below from Gail. Anyone who wishes to share your process with these “life mapping” prompts, please do! I will assemble your stories below the current post and also I will reply to all Comments. Feel free to respond to another’s stories or comments, too.-Linda)
From Gail (5/29/14):