The Storybook Version of Ourselves

When you think about yourself and who you are, what image pops into your mind? We all tell stories to ourselves about ourselves. We create our own myths. And while, like just about any joke ever told, there may be some underlying truth to this story, it gets enhanced and exaggerated for our own, deep seated purposes. Often times, the image we hold of ourselves is not an accurate reflection of who we are or can be.

Are you The Victim or The Martyr? The Misunderstood Genius? The Big Man on Campus? The Beauty Queen? The Rescuer? The Misfit? The Loser? The Righter of Wrongs? The Poor Little Match Girl? The Prophet? The Alienated Artist? The Sole Voice of Reason?

Who do you think you are?

Truly.

Part of re-booting involves determining who you really are versus who you think you are and then trying to merge these two identities. Unanimity of purpose is the goal here. Instead of fighting with yourself on a daily basis, a clear understanding of who you are will work wonders in making sense out of your life. “Ah, is that all?” you reply sarcastically. I know, I know; easier said than done.

So here’s one way to go about it.

When you think of yourself, what storybook character comes to mind? Somewhere, deep in the recesses of your brain, there lurks a character with whom you identify. Who is it? For me, my character is a combination of Ferdinand the Bull and Seabiscuit. There you go: that’s the way I see myself. So, now you have to do this for you. Once you have that answer, I want you to list out the qualities (good and ill) of this character and compare that list against yourself—and be fair about it!

Ask yourself, is this comparison accurate? Do the parallels between me and my storybook character make sense? Eliminating everything related to superpowers, we identify with characters for their human traits and struggles. For instance, what saved Harry Potter in all those adventures wasn’t magic. Rather, it was his human qualities of loyalty, friendship, courage, etc. that got him through harrowing circumstances. I may not have horns or hooves (at least according to most people), but I have heart and endurance. I can also be lazy and frequently overlooked as an oddball. So, that’s another thing I have in common with my four legged friends.

Once you have a grasp of this list, think about what you might say to your character to encourage him as he wrestles with discouragement or rejection or loss. What about him would you point out as a strength? Or, keeping your similarities in mind, go back and re-read that iconic story—what qualities did your hero call upon to master this challenge? How might you do the same in your life?

Utilizing a storybook character is a safe way to think about ourselves because it provides enough psychological distance that we allow for more possibilities in the character than we do for ourselves. And, it may just open some new doors.

Give it a try. It’s just a story.

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2 Responses to “The Storybook Version of Ourselves”

  1. helenga Says:

    I love this idea! Now I just have to remember all the storybook characters from my past…

  2. grasshopper Says:

    fun! I’m going to do this. 🙂

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