SELF REFLECTIVE READER RESPONSE 1
This will be a series of journalistic recordings of my experience with the book Personal Mythology by Krippner and Feinstein.
This paper will attempt to cover the groundwork for my understanding, reflections, and touch on potential changes within the field of Personal Mythology.
I read the first paragraph of David and Stanley’s forward and was inspired to write nearly the entire introduction to my own Personal Mythology class, which I took as a great start.
How Personal Mythology artfully blends psychology and spirituality is one of the most fascinating aspects of the subject for me. For the purpose of my work, products, services, and this paper however, I will focus on the more well measured of the two – psychology. Still, both are worth expanding on. When someone performing one of the many guided imagery rituals from within Personal Mythology by Stanley Krippner and David Feinstein and finds an internal kinship with the fox for instance, they can elicit meaning, wisdom, and virtues from the fox as a psychological technique or as a spiritual experience, or perhaps even both. This seems like a rare trait in psychology.
Personal Mythology also inhabits an ethereal space I call “true for you”. On first glance this could easily be dismissed as personal quackery but it seems the opposite is true – what is “true to you” is actually far more powerful than actual facts. If you had a mother who loved purple and raised you around a lot of purple, you could very well have an internalized myth regarding the nurturing, calming, and loving properties of purple, though it is just a specific wavelength of light.
Personal Mythology is transformative. Not just because it is some branch of psychology with routines to run you through which ‘in theory’ transform you, but because the entire meaning of the human experience, put simply, is just a series of stories told to us and that we tell ourselves. Those stories then become the most central, core, and root reason for our thoughts, feelings, and behavior. So it stands to logic that learning to uncover, process, edit, enliven, or even delete these stories is the very art, sport, and science of living itself.
These are just a few of the main reasons I am so absorbed and obsessed with Personal Mythology. I also happen to believe it will be one of the next popular movements in my generation.
The definition that Dr. Krippner uses for a personal myth is
“1. A statement, story, or image
2. that addresses important, existential human concerns,
3. and that, has consequences for behavior.”.
I think this works pretty well. One thing I’d like to clarify: My current understanding is that it is each individual person who determines whether their statement “addresses important, existential human concerns.”, as opposed to some authority like a psychologist.
I have also seen it discussed that all myths are beliefs but not all beliefs are myths, because a belief does not always affect your behavior. I’m not entirely sure this is true. Are there beliefs that do not affect our behavior? Believing the Earth is round, for instance, could be argued as a belief that does not affect your behavior, however it should cause you to calculate your math differently if you are a cartographer. So I might venture to say there is no belief that does not affect behavior. This is not to say there is no difference between myths and beliefs, though it is somewhat left to subjectivity – myths are at core, stories. Stories which play out in important ways throughout your life.
So while me believing the Earth is round doesn’t affect my life story much, it may very well affect the cartographer, and therefore a belief can be a simple belief for one person and a personal myth for another.
In my own attempt to define Personal Mythology I came up with this: Personal Mythology is the life story you gain from the interplay of archetypes. This opens up discussion on the definitions of archetypes though, and that might be better to get into in my next paper.
The first assignment was to read the introductions and forwards of the author’s and other prominent people in the field. Personal Mythology occupies an interesting space for me. I find that no matter how many introductions and 101’s I read of it, I always find each read uniquely informative and inspirational. I’ve given this a lot of thought over the years, and my conclusion is that Personal Mythology, to its users benefit and detriment, is simply an immense field. It tackles so many aspects of life. It can be a highly ritualized practice to slowly work through one’s stories. It can be a spur of the moment tool used to reframe a situation. It can be taken as a complete spirituality or even religion, or a purely psychological endeavor. You can talk about the individual mythos or the nation-wide one, or company one, or generational one, etc. So every author seems to touch on very different aspects.
Renowned inventor Buckminster Fuller once told Dr. Krippner that he had critically bad eyesight as a child. Then at age four he received eyeglasses and couldn’t believe the focus they brought to his world. From then on, any problem in life, he figured, could be solved by finding the right lens; a positive and powerful personal myth. This exemplifies how one’s myths are formed and how they shape your future.
Among the lessons I learned in these first pages are: Naming a myth gives you power over it. You can’t name what you can’t see, and what you can’t see, you can’t control. So you must find it and name it. Pain and anxiety are often indicators that a personal myth is not functioning for you. When life becomes unsettling, when you find yourself longing for change, when you feel empty, when you have self-destructive patterns, your mythos is begging to be transformed. Whatever you have felt in a dream you almost always have felt in real life. A major feature of dreams is to ‘process’ our waking lives. To do this dreams draw from our experiences. Also, emotions can be hyper specific, such as the feeling in a dream of “Falling into a black hole while two moons hang in a purple sky.”. Therefore if you can feel this specific emotion in a dream, chances are you can locate a time in your life you also felt this way. Your mythos changes over time. If it doesn’t, you suffer. The mythological guidance of religion, cultural traditions, and rituals have gone for the majority of the civilized world, so it is upon us to individually decide our myths. You must decide your myths or they will be decided for you. For instance does good and evil exist? You may try not to take a stance or say you don’t know, but you will be forced to make decisions based on this question throughout your life regardless. As you become aware of personal mythology, you become more capable of controlling it. Just like a dream.