signature stories

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P46Certain stories, we like to tell.  These are the tales about ourselves that we trot out at parties when meeting someone new, or in those Hello-my-name-is situations at a workshop or conference, or when trying to create a particular impression in others’ eyes.  Tried and true, practiced and polished …. [-p47]  These stories stand out….  If we were ever to write a formal autobiography, it is around such stories we might well construct our narrative. We can think of them as signature stories, for they are accounts of ourselves that relatively safe to tell, anecdotes with which we are willing to go public. … Whether happy or sad, about good times or bad, they say something about what turns us on or makes us tick; about the turning points in our path; about why our life has taken the course it has.  As such, they are often “origin stories” that say, basically, and that’s why I am the way I am – and am not (Bruner, 1990 [=Acts of Meaning]).

Our signature stories also indicate something about our fundamental beliefs, our convictions and values, habits and idiosyncracies; something about our hopes and fears, and our limits – about how far we can be pushed or how far we will go.  We may be keen to tell them, therefore because, whether we realize it or not, they undergird the personal “myth” which (unconsciously) guides our life [list or refs].  For this reason, our signature stories can have a legendizing impulse running through them, especially the more frequently we tell them or the more positively they are heard.” [1]


[1] Restorying our lives; personal growth through autobiographical reflection. Gary Kenyon and William Randall (Westpor, Connecticut and London, Praeger,1997) [ISBN 0275956636 pp46-47

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