“How do I begin?” my friend, Anne, asked me over lunch one day.
“You begin with your stories – that collection of stories from your past that you still tell yourself, and you alchemize them.”
The look on her face was funny and sad at the same time. But I have to hand it to her, she was game to continue. “Explain, please.”
“Alchemy is a funny word but it really just means transformation. When you ‘alchemize’ your stories, it means that you used the Story Alchemy™ process to reframe your story.” I paused to see if she understood. She nodded and I continued. “Part of the process is to release your old story, forgive yourself and others, and then replace it with an empowering story.”
We were enjoying lunch outside a small sandwich shop when the conversation veered in the direction of my passion – Story Alchemy. At first, Anne was politely curious, but she became more invested after I shared how much my life had changed after I began telling myself empowering stories.
“It sounds too good to be true,” skepticism ringing behind every syllable.
“Your stories act like filters on your awareness.” I paused as I looked around for an example that would bring the point home. “Do you see those two women at that other table? When you look at them, what are the thoughts that run through your mind?”
She glanced over and mused out loud. “They could be a mother and daughter having lunch.”
“What are some other possibilities?”
“A teacher and a student. Maybe the older woman is her aunt.”
I smiled…and did not say a word. Anne glanced back over to the other table and noticed that the younger woman was getting agitated and upset. She was moving uncomfortably in her chair and was intently focused on the older woman, her body tense with emotion.
“Definitely mother and daughter,” Anne declared with triumph.
“You don’t really know if any of those things are true, do you?” I asked gently. “You just observed an event and made up your own stories about it.”
Her confused look was comical, but I held her gaze while she puzzled it out. When the realization dawned in her eyes, I knew she had turned a corner.
“I get it! I decided they were mother and daughter because I remembered a similar scene with my own mother.”
“You recognized a similar pattern and immediately came to the conclusion that they are mother and daughter.”
“I guess so,” hesitation in her voice.
“Let me explain it this way. Your brain is designed to remember and recognize patterns – it helps you make instant decisions about whether something or someone is friendly or dangerous. That ability was helpful when survival depended on whether you knew if that large animal coming toward you was a saber tooth tiger, but it can really mess up relationships when you jump to a wrong conclusion, based on your own stories.” I took a sip of iced tea and waited a few moments for that information to sink in.
“When you saw those two women start to get into an argument, it reminded you of an argument you had with your mother, didn’t it? You felt the same emotions from the past when you observed that incident just now, didn’t you?”
Anne’s eyes widened in surprise. “How did you know that?”
“There is a deeper story of pain, isn’t there?”
She took a deep breath and nodded slowly. “When I was about that girl’s age, I had a terrible argument with my mother about where I was going to college. I finally gave in to her choice of schools, but I still resent her for forcing that on me.” Tears welled up in her eyes as she remembered that scene from many years ago. “It caused a rift in our relationship that is still there today,” she quietly admitted.
I reached across the table and gently squeezed her hand in support and friendship. We sat for a moment while she composed herself. She finally looked up and asked the question I had been waiting for.
“Can Story Alchemy help me reframe that story about my mother? I’m so tired of carrying it around.”
I stood up and hugged her, my heart singing with joy. I said a silent “thank you” and knew that I was exactly where I was supposed to be, helping my friend find peace with a slice of her past that still impacted her present moments.
To learn more about the Story Alchemy process, please visit KathrynEriksen.com and join the Story Alchemy email list. As you transform your stories from lead to gold, your heart will dance with life.