What would a map of your life look like?
You’ve probably heard the expression ‘life is a journey’? Working with someone recently, I started thinking about how if life is a journey, then what would a map of that life look like?
You could think of your life map as a simple representation of all the places you’ve lived and the events and experiences you had there, or you could picture it in a more symbolic sense. For example:
The events that have shaped you might appear as mountains or deep ravines, connected via gently flowing streams, or fast-flowing treacherous rivers. Dotted about the landscape, there are sunny plateaux and sparse stretches of scrubland through which you’ve had to travel to reach new ground or meet new people.
There may be roads forged through new territory, still narrow and twisty and not yet well-established, whilst in other parts, there are broad highways where the going is fast and easy and you can simply coast along.
As I write, I’m seeing images in my mind’s eye of some of the stunning landscapes in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, from the ever-sunny tranquil downs of the Hobbits’ Shire to the dark, bleak and forbidding lands of Mordor.
What would the climate be like in all those different parts of your map? What are the connections like between the different places? If you could take a helicopter flight over the map of your life, which areas would you want to hover over in order to take a closer look? And which would you avoid revisiting?
If you could build a subway under your life’s map, where would it start and where would you re-emerge into daylight? Which areas of your map would the subway avoid? Where are the danger zones and where are the happy places that you go back to in memory when you’re feeling low?
Are there people on your map? Who are they and where do you see them? Are they travelling with you or have you left them behind? Do your paths meet somewhere ahead? What does the landscape ahead look like and what sort of path is under your feet at the moment? If you could change direction, where would you go instead?
Where on your life map were you happiest, saddest, feeling lost or full of confidence?
Counselling and your life map
Sometimes counselling which starts with a question – ‘How do I stop being so anxious?, ‘How do I get over the death of my mother?’, ‘How do I recover from being abused?’, etc – becomes an exploratory journey through the landscapes of your life, finding connections and revealing answers without ever asking those questions directly. And yet it works! People come to counselling looking for answers to those painful and difficult questions, and leave feeling better.
Photo: © Enrique Flouret https://flic.kr/p/cwqwCN