Life in Review: Writing Down Your Legacy

Life in Review: Writing Down Your Legacy

 life review as a naturally occurring, universal mental process characterized by the progressive Attribution to Kimberly Recorreturn to consciousness of past experiences, and, particularly, the resurgence of unresolved conflicts; simultaneously, and normally, these revived experiences and conflicts can be surveyed and reintegrated.” – Robert N. Butler, PhD (1963)“I conceive of

Many people enter into a transitional time or the second half of their life with the desire to look back on past moments, the challenging and the rewarding. By examining your personal history you can often change the way you see things now. You can come to terms with the turmoil of your past, and bring joy into the present moment. The concept of collecting your memories and writing them down as thoughtful retrospective was pioneered by Robert N. Butler, PhD, in the 1960’s, who summed up the process as a “life review”.

In the last 50 years, there have been many studies done on the positive effects of writing on the human brain. The benefits of writing down your thoughts and feelings are innumerable. Not only can it help you with emotional pain, but it has been shown that it can help heal physical wounds as well. Many people chose to write expressively, journal about their daily lives, or keep gratitude journals. As you begin to get older, it may benefit you to review your life, and create a written account of your legacy. Here are some different ways you can tell your story.

Traditional Autobiography Style

Begin by mapping out your timeline. Your story doesn’t have to begin with your birth, you can include stories of your ancestors, your family history – anything that you feel is a part of who you are. This is the brainstorming part of the process. Try and recount as much as you can – even if you don’t think some things are worth mentioning. Figure out who the influential characters in your life were, people who have shaped you, who have taught you, or who have affected your life in a catalytic way.

When you have somewhat of an outline and a list of “characters”, you can begin to focus on the details of your story. Close your eyes and try and use your senses to recall what a certain memory felt like, what the room smelled like, and what your surroundings looked like. The more vivid a picture you can paint, the better the process will be.

Much like journaling, the best results will come from being as honest and as vulnerable as you can be. Allow yourself to reveal your mistakes, and reflect on them. Share your innermost thoughts and feelings about a situation. Allow yourself to comment on your past self as your present self.  Ask yourself questions in your writing. How do you feel now about the way you handled something in your past? Would you handle things differently now? How did a certain moment from your past affect you in the present?

The most power you can find comes from truth. Write your truth.

Alternative/Creative Life Review Methods

If writing an autobiography seems a bit too daunting, or too linear for you, there are other ways you can create a body of work that represents your legacy.

  • Pick your most powerful memories and use them as inspiration to write poetry or lyrics. Write letters to the people who you deem the most influential on your life, and tell them what you’ve experienced since you first met them.
  • Mix fiction into your life- if you have a memory that leaves you feeling sad or anxious, allow yourself to re-write it.
  • Create an alternate memory by writing short stories that are inspired by your life, but don’t follow it exactly.
  • Let yourself be as creative as you want to be.

By putting pen to paper, and committing your memories into a physical form, you may find yourself in a happier and more resolved place.

Author: Kimberly Recor, staff writer at Designing Brighter Tomorrows

© 2014 Designing Brighter Tomorrows, Inc.
This site is for information only, and is for your voluntary use at your own risk. See Terms of Use

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Comments are closed.