What Stories Are You Living? (Book Review)

Some books have the power to change your life. Sometimes it’s because the book is just so good, so poignant, hits you in such a hard and beautiful way that you have to stop while reading, close your eyes with the book on you chest, and breathe in what you’ve just read. Then there are those books that totally change the way you see yourself and your place in the world, and shape the way you live your life. What Stories Are You Living? is one of those books.

This book, by renowned archetype expert Carol S. Pearson, helps you understand yourself through the “archetypes” that are playing out in your life. Each of us, whether we acknowledge it or not, lives by archetypes that shape our behaviors and influence the story of our lives. This book helps you determine which archetypes are the most predominant in your own life. You start by taking a Pearson-Marr Archetype Indicator (PMAI) Assessment and Report, then the book provides explanations of what they mean and how the archetypes influence your life (keep reading for my top three). This assessment, by the way, is far more revealing and helpful than the traditional “personality assessments” you may have taken before.

Understanding the “story” you are living simply means that you are now able to recognize patterns in your life and use them to work in your favor. There are no “good” or “bad” archetypes; just ones that are stronger within you personally. As the book explains: “Your results show you the stories that you live most often, others that you live sometimes, and ones there for you in potential, for when you need them.”

We don’t often realize how much the stories we tell ourselves influence the outcomes of our life situations. That’s why recognizing the patterns in our every day life is so powerful and enlightening. Some stories we tell ourselves are helpful. Other stories are actually counterproductive to our life, and we don’t often see them because, well, it’s our life. Without understanding the stories we live by, they continue to live us – whether we like it or not.

The process of this book is much like meditation in that you are increasing your awareness to your inner world and your patterns of thinking and being, seeing them with non-judgment and total compassion. There’s nothing to “do” or change; just opportunities to recognize and connect the dots to grow your awareness. This book provides the tools for this inner growth.

One of the things I really like about this book is that you don’t read it in a traditional sense, meaning beginning to end. Instead, the author encourages you to jump around and even offers suggestions on which chapters to read first based off of what you seek to get out of the information. (For example, a high school student can benefit from different chapters than a journalist, screenwriter, or business leader, and Pearson helps determine where the reader can place his or her focus first.)

I love the Jungian roots of the archetypes Pearson lays out for the reader, which again, helps us really understand this on a whole-body and soul level. As humans, we learn by story. I remember cramming for tests in high school and college, memorizing and studying facts so that I could pass a test – but those facts often went right out of my head once the test was over. The real way of learning is through the element of story, which is why this book is so powerful in changing your life for the better. I see this in my son who, at five years old, has zero interest in learning lessons through textbook teaching. But the moment I tell him a story? He’s all ears.

It’s been my experience that the right books find you at just the right time. On a personal note, understanding my archetypes through this book has helped me navigate my current life situation. My top three archetypes are Magician, Creator, and Sage.

Anyone who is interested in self-improvement and/or inner child work will also really love this book. As Pearson puts it: “When we are children, we may inhale stories without exhaling the parts that do not serve us. As adults, we can influence our stories because we can name them and critique them.” This book will help you live your archetypal stories in a more authentic way and use this knowledge to craft a better life. You can grab your copy here: What Stories Are You Living? by Carol S. Pearson.

Note: I was provided an advanced reader copy of What Stories Are You Living? The thoughts and opinions in this post are my own.

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When a reviewer actually “gets” what an author is trying to say, it is a very good day. And when that reviewer writes with such clarity that there is no mistaking she “got” the book, well…that is an exceptionally good day. Thanks for fitting reading and thinking deeply into your days full of obligations and elsewhere joys. I so appreciate your skill, Ali.

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