How can you change your life when you go through life with the same nagging thoughts? “Will I ever get it put together?” “What must I do to change my life?” “Will I truly live before I die?”
When you feel stuck and struggling, and nothing you do ever seems to make a difference, it’s time to set yourself free from old belief systems based on traditional stories and inherited family stories.
The most powerful transformation process to change your life is to replace the stories you inherited and replace those stories with authentic life stories.
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Do the traditional stories that rule your life allow you to be true to yourself? For many of us, the stories we tell ourselves are not authentic stories, because they do not emerge from knowledge of our authentic selves.
Instead, they are traditional stories, based on family stories, passed through the generations. They are stories based on conventional wisdom within our cultural, national, and ethnic groups. They are stories based on religious beliefs.
We inherit these traditional stories as they are passed down through families, cultures, nations, and religions. One of the strongest themes of these inherited stories is obedience to authority.
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One of the most powerful statements I have ever read is this Hopi Proverb:
The one who tells the stories rules the world.
Authentic Life Stories begins with this claim and then goes one step further.
The one who tells the stories rules the world…and the stories you tell yourself are the most powerful rulers of all.
Your Life Story
This means that real change in your life must begin with the stories that rule your life.
Why do the stories you tell yourself matter?
- Stories answer the question “Why?”
- Stories give you context.
- Stories give you meaning.
- Stories tell you what’s important.
- Stories teach you who you are.
- Stories tell you how to live.
For many of us, the stories we tell ourselves are not authentic stories, because they do not emerge from knowledge of our authentic selves.
Instead, they are inherited stories, passed down through families, cultures, nations, and religions. All of these inherited stories are like well-worn hand-me-down shoes that are too small and hurt our feet. But we wear them anyway, and hobble through life, wearing someone else’s old shoes.
Many of us were taught to be obedient to some outer authority, and so we go through our lives, attempting to make ourselves fit into old hand-me-down stories.
You can set as many goals as you want, make as many plans as you want, try as hard as you can, but if you don’t pay attention to the stories that rule your life, you are fighting a losing battle. The stories will rule you until you decide to rule your stories.
Stuck In A Rut
What is the result of these efforts to wear inherited stories that don’t fit our authentic selves? One of my friends has told me several times that her gravestone will read:
She never got it put together.
With these words, my friend expresses in words the high cost of using inherited stories to define the “Why?” of her life. She also—unwittingly—demonstrates how her own self-told stories diminish her, demean her, and rob her of the power to live the life she truly desires to live.
Authentic Life Stories is for anyone who goes through life with the same nagging thoughts. Will I ever get it put together? What must I do? Will I truly live before I die?
The Story Transformation Process Solution
What’s the solution to living life with inherited stories that that keep you stuck and struggling? You replace those stories with authentic stories.
Authentic stories are original stories. “Authentic” (from Greek, authentikos) has the sense of acting on your own authority.
There is a direct connection between knowing who you are and the stories you tell yourself about your life.
The wisest words ever spoken in human history are these:
You cannot live authentically if you don’t know who you are.
When you live your life “ruled” by your own authentic life stories, you are the one who chooses the stories that allow you to be truly yourself.
If you claim the authority to live your life according to your own authentic stories, based on knowing who you really are, the result can transform your life.
The purpose of “Authentic life Stories: Transform Your Stories To Change Your Life,” is to teach the “Story Transformation Process” that shows you how to transform the inherited stories that keep you stuck and struggling into stories that allow you to live your own authentic life story.
Dr. Kalinda Rose Stevenson
The Story Transformer
Creator of “The Story Transformation Process”
Categories: Tags: authentic life, authentic life stories, authentic selves, authority, change your life, Life story, personal development, story transformation process, story transformer, stuck in a rut, the power of story, transformation process, transformation stories, your life story
Pictures are an essential feature of Authentic Life Stories. Stories and pictures are inseparable. Every story evokes images and every image evokes stories. Also, our subconscious mind communicates through pictures rather than words. This means that Authentic life Stories are more than words. They are also movies—words and images combined to create the stories we live by.
Changing Your Life Story Means Changing Your Pictures
This means that changing your stories also means changing your inner movies. It means turning off the movie camera playing the same old reruns we have seen a thousand times before, and creating new movies, in which we are our own screenwriters, directors, actors, and producers.
As a serious amateur photographer, photography is more than a hobby for me. It is way for me to practice being observant of the world around me. As I write blog posts, I will also share some of my photos, starting with the picture at the top of the page.
San Francisco Bay On The Fourth Of July
Choosing my favorite photos is something like choosing a favorite child. Although it was a tough choice, this photo won out over the shot of Mount Diablo in Walnut Creek, California, with a dusting of snow on its two peaks. From a story perspective, this one tells a better story, full of metaphors and visual images of the universal human story called “the Hero’s Journey.”
The photo is of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge and Yerba Buena Island in San Francisco Bay. The background shows the massive white cranes of the Port of Oakland and the Oakland-Berkeley Hills. And if you look very closely at the midpoint of the first section of the bridge on the right, you can even see the tip of Mount Diablo in the distance. I took the photo one Fourth of July from the Embarcadero in San Francisco.
The Hero’s Journey In One Picture
There are so many metaphors of the hero’s journey within this one photo that this image can serve as a template for what is required to change our stories to change our lives. A bridge. An island. A massive bridge pier. A road through a tunnel. Water. A distant city. A distant sacred mountain. Cranes. Sailboats. Each is both material object and metaphor. Each is a visual representation of essential themes in every hero’s journey.
The San Francisco Bay Bridge As The Place of Crossing
As a visual image of life-changing stories, what image is better than a bridge? Bridges carry us across obstacles, to let us pass from one place to another. The Bay Bridge has two sections. The section visible in the photo spans the San Francisco Bay between Yerba Buena Island and San Francisco. The longer span—unseen in the picture—stretches between Yerba Buena Island and Oakland.
Although the Bay Bridge doesn’t get anywhere nearly as much attention as its more famous cousin, the Golden Gate Bridge—which stretches from northward from San Francisco to Marin County—it is a workhorse of a bridge. In many ways, it is an engineering marvel, with impressive statistics.
- The two San Francisco Bay Bridge sections combined are 23,000 feet long (4.5 miles)
- From one approach to the other, the San Francisco Bay Bridge is 43,500 feet long (8.5 miles).
- West span: 2,310 feet (9,260 feet total length), 220 feet above the water. The cables are made from 0.195-inch diameter wires, 17,464 wires in each cable, with a total diameter 28.75 inches.
- East span cantilever bridge: 1,400 feet (10,176 feet total length), 191 feet above the water.
- The San Francisco Bay Bridge is the longest high-level, steel bridge in the world.
- The Yerba Buena Tunnel, which connect the two sections of the San Francisco Bay Bridge, is the tallest bore in the world, 76 feet wide and 58 feet tall.
- The deepest pier extends 242 feet below the water’s surface, and it contains more concrete than the Empire State Building.
- Over a quarter million vehicles cross the San Francisco Bay Bridge daily.
- San Francisco Bay Bridge construction consumed over 6% of the total United States steel output in 1933. San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.
On one of the occasions when Jim and I took our family to the Coit Tower in San Francisco, two tourists were looking at the Bay Bridge. One asked me: “That is the Golden Gate Bridge, isn’t it?” I said that it was the Bay Bridge, and that the Golden Gate Bridge was off to the left, heading north out of San Francisco. It was clear that they didn’t believe me. They wanted to see the Golden Gate Bridge and were unwilling to believe that they were looking at another bridge. That is a metaphor too. Sometimes, we refuse to believe what is before our eyes, because we want to believe something else.
Yerba Buena Island As A Stepping Stone
The Bay Bridge connects with Yerba Buena Island. This island is the stepping stone in the San Francisco Bay for the two separate spans of the bridge. This island is what made the bridge between San Francisco and Oakland possible.
The challenges facing the Toll Bridge Authority were monumental. California State Highway Engineer Charles C. Purcell was put in charge of organizing the design and construction of the Bay Bridge. Fortunately, between the two shorelines was a mountain of shale rock rising above the Bay: Yerba Buena Island. The island divides the Bay into two sections allowing for two crossings, which would meet at the island. Permission was granted from the Army and Navy, tenants of the island, to use it as an anchorage. Yerba Buena Island.
Islands are another metaphor of human stories and the heroic journey. Islands can be the middle place necessary to make connections for journeys too long to traverse in one trip. Islands can be the bits of land that provide refuge from the ocean. Islands can also be places of isolation.
Alcatraz Island As The Place Of No Escape
It doesn’t show in this picture, but only a little way to left there is another island in the San Francisco Bay, as famous as the Golden Gate Bridge—Alcatraz, former Federal penitentiary. There are no bridges to Alcatraz Island. Alcatraz is a symbol of loss of freedom, of isolation, of a place with no escape. Alcatraz housed the most infamous of criminals, whose non-heroic actions led them to Alcatraz. Yerba Buena is not Alcatraz. It has a bridge.
The Bridge Pier As Foundation
On the very right of the photo, the massive bridge pier rises up out of the water.
Yet spanning the 1.78 miles between the San Francisco and Yerba Buena Island required ingenuity on a grand scale. The water, 100 feet deep at some points, and the underlying soil conditions required new techniques for placing bridge foundations. The solution: build two suspension bridges.
Using plans conceived by Daniel E. Moran of New York, the nation’s top expert on deep-water foundations, Purcell decided to build a center anchorage between the shoreline and Yerba Buena Island. The anchorage would be a monolithic concrete pier supporting one end of each of the two suspension bridges connecting Yerba Buena Island with San Francisco. Bridge Pier
This pier is the foundation that makes the two sections of the bridge between Yerba Buena Island and San Francisco possible. It is also an engineering marvel, creating a solution to what seemed an impossible problem. This massive pier has to be strong enough and buried deeply enough to support the whole structure. This picture evokes images of deep foundations needed to cross any obstacle, and the indomitable will to find a solution, no matter how impossible the problem.
The Yerba Buena Island Tunnel As The Cave
Yerba Buena Island also has a tunnel, and with everything else about the Bay Bridge crossing, this tunnel has world-class statistics. It is the highest tunnel bore in the world. Every trip across the bridge also means crossing through the tunnel dug into the earth. The tunnel is yet another metaphor of the hero’s journey—the cave—in which heroes must descend into the darkness of the earth, to face their greatest fears.
Oakland As The Less Traveled Place
This view is from San Francisco, one of the most visited tourist cities in the world. But this view is not of San Francisco, but of Oakland in the distance. Gertrude Stein was reported to have said of Oakland, “There is no there, there.” She meant that everything she knew as a child was no longer there, but these words have been taken as a putdown of Oakland in contrast to its more glamorous neighbor across the Bay.
Transitions are like that too. Life-changing quests often require visits to the less traveled areas, the dark side, the shadow side, the less famous, the less popular, the places off the beaten path.
The Cranes As Tools
The white cranes of the Port of Oakland are also visible. Even these cranes have a story. They are enormous—some of the largest cranes in the world.
The giant cranes of Oakland have fired up the imaginations of passers-by for years. Filmmaker George Lucas, who drove past the port every day on his way to work, acknowledged that they were the inspiration for the deadly Imperial Walker vehicles that the bad guys used for chasing the good guys in the “Star Wars” movies.
Made in Shanghai, China, these cranes cross the Pacific Ocean on a special freighter designed and built to ride low in the water. They are so tall that their arrival must be carefully timed for low tide. Each time new cranes are delivered, a man rides on top of one of the cranes, making sure that there is enough room to squeeze under both the Golden Gate and the Bay Bridges, with inches to spare.
Cranes are also a metaphor for being lifted up and carried, and put down again. They are the tools, the equipment, the products of human manufacture that make big exploits possible.
A Declaration Of Freedom
There are also important elements of the heroic story in this picture that are not visible. It was taken on the Fourth of July. In the American story, this is our Independence Day, the day when our ancestors declared: “We will not submit to tyranny. We will claim our independence. We will create our own destiny.” This determination to be free is the essence of the heroic journey of a people.
Fog As Uncertain Vision
Fog is also a metaphor of our stories and our journeys. The focus of this picture is not as perfectly sharp as I would like it to be, but this picture was taken from the city known as Fog City, and already the fog was beginning to creep inward, blurring the image. This is also a metaphor of visions that are never as clear as we would like.
Every time San Francisco schedules a fireworks display, it is a demonstration of hope, expressed with the constant questions: Will the fog stay offshore long enough to cooperate? Or will the fog do what San Francisco fog usually does on summer evenings, and shroud the skies with a gray blanket?
Nature As A Dose Of Reality
The fact is, the fog doesn’t care what people want. This is also a metaphor for a dose of reality that punctures our human grandiosity. Nature doesn’t care at all what we want. Nature will do what it will do, no matter what we have planned.
The other reality about San Francisco Fourth of July fireworks is that San Francisco in summer can be a cold place. Although Mark Twain never actually said it, this quotation attributed to him just about sums it up. ”The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.”
That particular year, the fog didn’t wait offshore long enough to appease the hopes of the hundreds of thousands of people gathered for Fourth of July fireworks. At the same time, the people in charge of firing off the fireworks from barges in the Bay didn’t hold up the white flag of surrender. San Franciscans don’t surrender to fog. They shot off the rockets anyway. This is another metaphor of human determination to do what we planned to do, no matter what happens. We will persist with our plans, fog or no fog.
Why Don’t They Do Something?
And so Jim and I huddled on a pier in the Bay, on a cold and foggy San Francisco Fourth of July, and watched fireworks in the fog. As much as I love fireworks with bursting patterns of vibrant light in a clear night sky, I will never forget the fireworks in the fog. They were surreal, eerie, and strangely beautiful.
However, one of the twenty-somethings on the pier beside us was particularly upset that the fog had ruined his fireworks. He kept repeating: “Why don’t they do something about this?”
There are metaphors in all of this too. The young man who expected city officials to exert power over the fog. His unwillingness to let be, what was. His inability to enjoy himself, even if disappointed. These are all metaphors for not being willing to accept the current reality of what no one could change, and a tendency to be miserable rather than to choose to be happy in the moment, no matter what.
Boats To Cross The Waters
There are also sailboats in the picture. How can I forget to mention boats that capture the wind and travel from place to place, farther away than any bridge can span? After all, who needs a bridge when you have a boat? How many hero’s journeys require boats to get from here to there?
And just as the infomercials proclaim—”Wait! There’s more!”—there is even more to this picture.
Earth, Water, Air, And Fire
Ancient Greek science and philosophy identified Four Elements: earth, water, air, and fire. This picture shows the earth of the island and the land across the Bay, the air in the sky above, and water below. The only element missing in this shot is fire—but we were in San Francisco to watch the fireworks on the Fourth of July. So, even the fire is present as part of the story, even if it is not in this picture.
The Picture Worth A Thousand Words
This one photo—trimmed to size to fit the space allotted on the top of the page—combines the natural world and visible images of some of the greatest engineering feats in the world in one picture.
As a template for Authentic Life Stories, this photo pictures many of the dreams, goals, and achievements of human history.
It conveys the elements of the natural world, as both obstacle and gift.
It also captures the essence of what motivates human beings to take on challenges, to strive, to change, and to create.
It is the human hero’s journey in one image, the picture that is worth a thousand words. And it also demonstrates the reason that I rarely leave home without my camera.
For Your Success,
Dr. Kalinda Rose Stevenson
The Story Transformer
Creator Of The Story Transformation Process