Stories Told, Stories Untold, Stories That Tell Us
“Our lives course with stories, stories that run through us from ancestors, stories we tell others and tell ourselves, and stories of which we are unaware and thereby tell us. We will reflect on the role these stories play in the shaping of our lives, and how they invite us to greater consciousness of what invisibly informs the visible world.”
James Hollis is likely the clearest most succinct teacher I have ever encountered. The workshop I took on the weekend was no exception to this rule. He taught through clear exposition of the principles behind his philosophy, illustrated brilliantly by examples from the dreams of his clients followed by some experiential work and sharing after lunch. He began by explaining that each of us will experience an energy driven narrative that flows from our experience of starting powerless in a powerful world. ‘Basically the world is big and powerful and you are not.” He then suggested that there were two key responses to this fact: overwhelment and abandonment.
In terms of overwhelment he identified three core coping strategies that we could have developed as children
- Avoidance. This shows up as projection, disassociation, procrastination, distraction, suppression, repression.
- Birth of a power complex – to take control.
- Compliance – to get along, you go along.
In terms of abandonment the strategies are:
- Self esteem issues: diminished leads to sabotage and avoidance, over compensation leads to grandiosity,
- Power complex, narcissism, no connection with self leads to manipulating others because of emptiness within.
- Inordinate desire for connection causes imposition on other and addictions.
The bulk of our energy can end up being directed at self-anxiety management systems. We end up in service to archaic messages that are both systemic and evasive.
He then demonstrated the power of dreams to reveal our complexes that have resulted from our response to the above narratives. He described dreams as coming from an internal corrective process that can help guide us to self understanding.
Some great one liners. Every morning when you awake there are two gremlins at the foot of your bed – fear and lethargy. When in the grip of anxiety try lowering your energy and grounding yourself.
An experiential exercise to check your family story and how it may have impacted you.
Three columns: Mother Father Self
Answer the following five questions based on your perception of them when you were a child. Your own answer is based on your sense of yourself now.
- Define the main source of life satisfaction and happiness.
- What story did I internalize as their major worry or concern?
- How did your mother and father perceive their social role or identity?
- What was their understanding of the transcendent?
- When they woke in the morning what could their motto or intention have been?