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Excerpt from "LifeWorks: Using Myth & Archetype to Develop Your Life Story"

by Jane Bailey Bain

Why did your life turn out this way?

Who are the most important people in your world?

What would you do differently, if you had the chance?

Ever since the first people sat around their camp-fire, we have wondered about the meaning of life. One of the ways we try to explain the world is to tell stories. When we tell a story, we make connections between a series of events. We can see how one thing led to another. We can even decide what will happen next. Stories are reassuring and empowering. They help us to make sense of our lives.

When you meet someone new, you tell them about yourself. You tell them your name, where you live and work, what you did on holiday. In other words, you tell them your story.

Your story tells me about you: it shows what you’ve done in the past, and so how you’re likely to behave in the future. More importantly, your story tells YOU about yourself. It reminds you of your experiences so far. It shows how you usually think and feel. Your life story tells you who you are.

If your life is a story, then who writes it? You do, of course: but you may not be aware of it. Most people drift through life on automatic pilot. They accept their fate without ever really trying to change it. Of course, some events like natural disasters are outside our control. But you actually have far more influence over your life script than you might think. Once you are aware of these processes, you can decide to change the next bit of the story. As the saying goes, tomorrow the sun will rise and set: what else happens is up to you.

Ever since you were a child, you have been working on your life script. You construct a plot based on stories you have come across in books, films and magazines. The parts in your story are acted out by the people around you. At the same time, you are playing a part in their life stories. We tend to seek out other people who will act complementary roles. If you’re a hero, you’ll look for a princess to rescue; if you’re an earth mother, you’ll want a hungry urchin to feed. The roles we play are often surprisingly stereotyped although we adapt them for our individual performances. When we interact with other people, we tend to identify them with universal figures called archetypes. And when you treat someone as good or bad, you tend to find that they behave just as you expected....

LifeWorks’ helps you to identify relationship patterns and life themes. It is a practical handbook combining insights from psychology and anthropology. It contains retellings of myths and folk-tales from around the world. Questions and exercises help you to develop your own ‘personal mythology’. These tools can also be used by counsellors, and by writers for character analysis and plot development.

Jane Bailey Bain is a writer and life coach. She was born in the USA and grew up in Europe. She studied Psychology at Oxford University and Anthropology at the London School of Economics. For several years, Jane worked as a social development consultant on projects in Africa and Asia. During this time she became interested in stories and how people use them to make sense of their lives. Jane currently runs workshops and courses on Mythology in West London. She holds a PGCE and a Certificate in Counselling Skills. Her work has been described as a cross between Joseph Campbell and Julia Cameron. ‘LifeWorks’ provides a unique combination of psychological and anthropological approaches to the study of myth.

Read more about myth on her blog at http://janebaileybain.wordpress.com/
Visit Jane’s Author Page and follow her on Twitter @janebaileybain

‘LifeWorks: Using myth and archetype to develop your life story’ by Jane Bailey Bain.

Published 2012 by O-Books $22.95 / £12.99. Available from any bookshop or Amazon.

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