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#4 Reason to Write Your Life Stories: Self-Discovery




The Moment of Self-Discovery

You’ve gotten to a point at which you may wonder about the meaning of life – your life, in particular. I call this exercise in self-discovery the “What’s it all about, Alfie?” syndrome. This is a great time to reflect and put things into perspective.

As you’re writing your memoirs you may ask,

  • What are my accomplishments? What have I achieved?
  • Are there patterns in the way I’ve lived my life?
  • What is my life purpose? Or even: Is there purpose to life?
  • Why am I alive at this time?
  • Is there something I’m supposed to do?
  • Have I made a difference?
  • What are my passions? And what does that mean in terms of purpose?
  • What are my resistances?
  • What about me is unique (i.e: special)?
  • Have I taken responsibility when I should have?

Even if you’re not consciously asking such questions, the answers may appear as “Ahas!” as your stories get written.

Write about your accomplishments. Go ahead, be immodest. You probably don’t have a mom or dad to brag about you anymore so you have to toot your own horn. In the first place, you’ll want your descendants to know about your achievements. And secondly, you may learn something about yourself. What drove you? How did you feel about them? What did they do for you . . . and for others? What were your rewards?

I advise people to sit down, pen and notebook in hand, and start listing the things they’ve done in their lives. Most come away from this exercise flabbergasted. They had no idea they’d done so many things.

Many people wonder (even obsess) about their “life purpose”. “My life has to be about more than just taking up space on the planet; just breathing in and out until I die.” Here’s the “What’s it all about?” thing. The answer may come to you as you write your story, or when you’ve written it and reflect on it. Don’t obsess about it; just let it come, if it does. No guarantees. And don’t feel that you have to share it in your writings. It may be a personal Aha! that you’d like to keep to yourself.

Many think their purpose has to be something BIG, like finding the cure for cancer or designing a rocket to zoom through the galaxies. Although nice, that may not be realistic. An acceptable purpose may simply be to practice kindness. Or grow a garden and share your bounty with others. Or make people laugh. Or teach others something you’ve learned.

What have you done? And, just as important, what can you do now?

Your purpose may be connected to your passions. What gives you pleasure? What do you enjoy doing? What fills you up? What could you not live without?

Or, conversely, your purpose may be indicated by what you’ve resisted. What have you shied away from? You might want to take a look at that in terms of purpose.

What makes you uniquely you? What defines you? What do people say about you?

Celebrate your uniqueness!

As you write your life stories, you may notice patterns you hadn’t been aware of before, inherent qualities or characteristics.

One of my own for-instances came as I wrote the preface to my memoirs:

“I seem to need change; newness; variety. And I need challenges. I’ve often tackled a thing just to see if I could do it. I need the feeling of accomplishment when I’ve met the challenge.”

As you look back over your life you may become aware of some of your patterns.

Ask yourself, “How have I made a difference in the world?” and write about that. It may bring up the question, “How can I make a difference in the world?” and start you off on new campaigns.

You’ll learn about your relationships – of all kinds. How have you related to people in authority? Those of the opposite sex? People over whom you had authority? Children? Old people? People of other races or creeds? God?

Writing your life stories is an exercise in Self-Discovery.

That’s part of what this wonderful time of life is about. Embrace it.

It’s not unusual for a person to be judged for being who they are. I’ve been judged – and even called “crazy” (by my steady, constant, undeviating sister) — for changing careers, taking on new projects (sometimes several at once), running all over the world, and not sticking to one thing my whole life through.

This exercise is not about judging, though. It’s about self-discovery, about learning marvelous things about yourself, and perhaps the chance to correct a few little things.


Your Life Oughta Be A Book, and That’s Life; Many Mini-Memoirs, as well as Your Ethical Will & Testament, by Carol Petersen Purroy are available at www.CarolPurroy.com



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