Human beings love stories.
We have been telling them for millions of years.
In prehistoric times, sitting around a fire telling stories was our Netflix.
Stories allow us to learn from new experiences without having to go through them.
As they unfold, we ask ourselves what we would do to overcome this.
We check out how we would respond in the same situation.
They help us understand the normality of our own challenges. We are not alone. We all go through this stuff.
Others are battling too, and winning.
Stories widen our options. We see others choose a strategy we may never have thought of.
Most importantly, they mirror our own struggles.
Every story is a battle between what the hero wants and what stands in their way.
The thing that stands in their way differs from tale to tale. Sometimes, it’s a villain. Sometimes a responsibility. Sometimes it is nature itself.
But always, there is something that blocks the hero’s way. Without that, there’d be no story at all.
Denise wants to catch the bus so goes to the bus stop and gets on it.
That’s not a story. That’s just an event.
It only becomes a story when we add meaning and an obstacle. Why is it important that Denise catches that bus? And what stands in her way?
That’s how life is too.
Personal change looks a lot like stories.
There is something that matters to us. Yet there is something blocking our path.
The process of change follows the line of a story.
We look to stories to help understand what it takes to overcome obstacles and get what we most value.
Because when we seek change, that is the task we face too.
In every great story, something happens just as the hero is about to win.
The bad guy rallies with one last vain attempt to scupper them. Whatever stands in their way rises up, trying to derail their plans.
The hero faces one last challenge before achieving their final victory.
In life, when you are on the verge of victory, the same thing often happens.
Circumstances conspire against you. Something happens to throw you back into disarray.
It feels like it’s a sign that everything is hopeless. Yet it’s the opposite. It’s a sign that this is the finale of the movie.
The scene where you, as the hero, get back up again and take the villain down.
Stories are our training for this moment. Now is your time to be that hero. You are closer than you think.Alun Parry is Director of The Liverpool Psychotherapy Practice