Our Lives as Stories: Overcoming the Monster

This week’s storyline is pretty basic. We all know it well: “overcoming the monster”. In fact, most of what I’m going to say doesn’t even divert much from what was said on the original site from which I got the basic storylines.

In an “overcoming the monster” story, you have a main character and a foe– an enemy or force standing in the way of the good of the main character. The odds are not in favour of this character and it will take strength and courage and resolve to triumph.

Do they win?

Yep. Pretty much every time in the movies these days. Think David and Goliath, Karate Kid, Star Wars, and pretty much every superhero movie. (Spoiler alert, by the way.)

Why are these movies so successful? It goes back to the discussion of why we love stories in the first place. It has something to do with the love/hate relationship we have with conflict in movies (when we get to watch it from the comfort of our chairs with popcorn in hand) and the hate/hate relationship with have with conflict in real life (when we are the ones in the centre of the action).

It can be so inspiring to watch monsters be defeated. But it can be so disheartening to try to defeat our own monsters.

Sigh…

And sigh again…

We know this storyline well– not just from the movies, from real life too.

Sometimes it can be hard to tell if we are the hero or the bedraggled monster on any given day…

So, in the spirit of the brave heroes and heroines I know are all in us, here is an exercise to encourage us in overcoming our own monsters.

Exercise:

What needs overcoming in your life? Big or small– what’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a “monster” that you might be facing these days? Does it feel like an impossible situation — one you won’t ever have the strength or courage or time to change? It might be anger or your attitude to a family member, it might be greed or insincerity or any number of temptations. Maybe the thing you need to overcome might be outside of yourself: standing up to a particular situation, for a friend, or an injustice.

There could be so many monsters in our lives.

Remember, neither the shepherd David or even Luke Skywalker knew going into battle that they were absolutely going to win. But that didn’t stop them from pursuing what they knew was good and right. Think about one real way that you can stand up to this monster. It can be something big or small. It just needs to be specific and an action that moves you onto the path of facing the monster. Once you have that specific action in mind, think about a time when you can do it. And then take a deep breath, think about the monster and the fears that come to the surface… What do you need to do to find the courage to do that one thing?

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” — Lao Tzu

Bonus: When you get really brave, stop and reflect on what your definition of “victory” or “success” is in this situation. We all need to do that once in a while… and probably more often than we think.

(To be able to connect to all of the posts in the Our Lives As Stories series, go here.)

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