The Power of Story: How Understanding Our Narrative Transforms Our Perspective


What is one of your favorite movies or books?  Do you have a particular story that always makes you cry, stay glued to the edge of your seat, or immerse you in a different world?  What kind of story draws you in? What stirs your heart as you read or watch?  What motivates the main characters to take on their challenges?

The Harry Potter book series comes to me as a prime example.  (Likely because I’m re-reading through it.)  This has always been one of my favorite adventure tales, and it doesn’t take long for me to get drawn back into the world when I pick up a book or turn on a movie from the series.  I love the themes of friendship, good vs. evil, justice served to areas where prejudice has reigned supreme, and development of characters as three-dimensional rather than stereotypes.

Whether you’re a fan of a good mystery, a thriller, or an epic adventure, many of the most compelling stories we encounter share similarities with something called the monomyth, or the hero’s journeyJoseph Campbell studied mythology and found a common pattern in stories of heroes, much of which was based on the human experience.

So what does this hero's journey have to do with our lives?

Joseph Campbell showed how these stories reflect the human psychological experience.  He theorized, “We are all heroes struggling to accomplish our adventure.  As human beings, we engage in a series of struggles to develop as individuals and to find our place in society.”

When we begin to look at our lives as part of a larger story, we can see how the experiences we once thought were devastating can actually serve to further our life stories and move us closer to our reward.  We need to be able to move through trials and difficult experiences in order to experience fulfillment.  In fact, the trials in these myths are often the most exciting parts of the plot.

How might you find clues to the hero's journey in your own life?

Ask yourself these questions to begin to explore how what you're facing in life might be part of the larger narrative of your own journey

  • What is your call to adventure? What is the cave you seek to enter?

  • Who can assist you?

  • What feels like a risk? What’s out of your comfort zone?

  • What trials are you facing?

  • What is your worst fear?

  • What have been some of your worst moments?

  • When have you seen reward or result of your actions? What reward do you still desire?

  • How has your life experience changed you?

My hope is that as you engage with and explore these questions, you'll have renewed vision and hope for what is yet to come in your life, and you'll begin to see your trials and trouble as steps along your own hero's journey.


Do you wish you were living a different story from the one you’re in?  Do you look at the adventures and excitement in others’ lives and wish you could have that?  At Restored Hope, I know that you likely have stories of victory and triumph, as well as stories of defeat and disgrace.  I would love to walk with you through those stories as you seek to grow and heal from past wounds.  Give me a call at 734.656.8191 or fill out the form here to talk with me about counseling at my Ann Arbor therapy location.