In any library or book shop the books are divided into sections.The main division is between fiction and non-fiction, although really when you think about it, there’s no hard and fast difference between the two.
Because if it’s true that writers mostly write about what they know, then it follows that there’ll be a fair amount of subjective fact to be found in any fictional book. And non-fictional work, being open to individual interpretation is also often a matter of context, opinion and personal experience.
Even the most precise of scientific theories can only be classified as fact until such time as the next paradigm shift rears it’s revolutionary head.
This makes it easy for us to head towards our preferred reading matter and most people do have a preference for one or more type of book. Those of us who prefer to watch a movie are also usually drawn to some genres more than others, be it action or period drama, romance or thriller, fantasy or science fiction.
And you might think it’s just a matter of taste and there’s no real significance to the types of stories we gravitate towards. However research suggests there’s much more to it than that.
Because when we relate to a character, situation or a setting it doesn’t really matter to our unconscious mind whether the story we’re being told is true or not. Our imagination is fired. And the brain doesn’t know the difference between what’s real and what’s imagined.
So when we escape into a fantasy, as far as our unconscious mind is concerned it’s as if we become the character to whom we relate. We can be the hero, the villain, the maiden in distress or the loveable rogue.
And when you look back over your life it’s possible that there could be a connection between the stories you enjoy now and the ones you enjoyed as a child.
The connection isn’t always obvious and it might not even be the main character that you relate to. It might be something about the relationship between the characters, or something about the setting, or in fact, any kind of common thread that strikes a chord somewhere within your psyche.
And when it does, and something inside you relates emotionally to a character or a situation, your unconscious mind reacts as if it were really happening to you, and in your imagination, for a while at least, you are living that story and on some unconscious level it becomes your own.
We all know that children are impressionable. Their brains are developing physically right through to adulthood (if the process ever stops at all). Children usually love to hear the same story over and over and the character and storyline they identify with can often become part of their personal identity and the way they experience the world they live in. For example if a girl identifies with the typical princess of fairy stories, who waits passively to be rescued by a handsome prince, could this mean she grows into a woman who feels she doesn’t have the ability to solve her own problems?
The beautiful but victim-like princess becomes a metaphor for herself and the handsome prince a metaphor for her rescuer.
By identifying our own unconscious metaphors we can learn to let go of any unhelpful patterns and begin our life story anew.
It can be helpful to think about the following:
- What stories did you enjoy as you were growing up?
- What books and movies do you enjoy as an adult?
- Is there a connection between the two themes?
- How does this connection relate to your life so far?