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Bibliotherapy and the Five Layers of Story

  • All MyPath Pathfinder Workshops feature a section about the Five Layers of Story.

  • Whether you want to explore story craft for personal insight or to further advance your skills as a performer... MyPath Pathfinder Workshops are designed for a social emotional experience that will forever change your understanding of the stories of your life.

  • The bibliotherapy process explores the context of our live's stories in a systematic and revealing way.

  • Stories are more than what we tell to other people. All of us carry stories we tell ourselves.

  • Layers of Story reveals how such stories affect our lives and... a process through which we take ownership our stories.

  • When your artistic vision is communicated through the telling of your story, you expand your life and the lives of others. Metaphorically, your “globe of light” expands through self-discovery. You bring light to every layer of your own story, become the agent of your own artistry and a light bringer to everyone your story is shared with.

The Five Layers of Story

​When your artistic vision is communicated through the telling of your story, you bring light to every layer of your own story, you become the agent of your own artistry and a light bringer to everyone your story is shared with.

  • Layer One:    Earth - The Roots of My Story. – From birth to our first memories of life. We come into world with our first language in us. Before we learn the consensual meaning of words and the ways of human society, our minds and spirit are one with the universe, with the language of the universe in us. As we learn the language our family speaks and the ways they comprehend the world, our first language turns inward and becomes what is called our intuition or “inner voice”. Our inner voice is always with us and is a universal part of all human experience. The first layer of story is our inner voice, as well as the world and conditions at the time of our birth... our family, community, society, media and institutions. Connecting with our inner voice and reflecting on the world at your birth and infancy opens each of us to understand the roots of our daily story. Remember – this is true for every person alive. This is so meaningful because we share this with everyone no matter our differences. In this important way we are all the same.

  • Layer Two:    Water - Finding My Inner Voice in Liminal Space. Layer Two starts around the time we have our very first memories in life. Making up the second layer of story are inputs and sensibilities from family and community as we experienced life. In our early childhood the events of our lives are out of our control. When we are little, our stories are given to us by our context and significant others in our lives. It is important to recognize that the impact of those stories is still with us today and so with everyone else around us. When we think about this fact, that our stories are given to us, we have compassion for ourselves and for everyone else. Compassion and forgiveness for ourselves and for others. Reflect on the first and second layers of your story. The events of every one of your stories rests on the foundation poured into you by the world you were born into and the people who taught you about life and language. As we pass through childhood into adolescence, we begin to become agents in our stories.

  • Layer Three: Air - Open the Vault. - Layer Three begins when we start to really focus our thoughts and actions on those other than our nuclear family. Passing through adolescence to adulthood, in the third layer, we gain more control of the decisions we make in life... with every year we age we gain more self-determination. Self-story creation. When we review the context from which our stories arise we start to understand our capacity to review conflicting, frozen stories from the first, second and beginning of the third layer. Old frozen stories, trauma and negative experiences are stored in our bodies, causing all sorts of physical results along with emotional/mental impact and distraction. These old, negative experiences from our youthful years are now referred to as Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE’s). By unfreezing those stories, those ACE’s... through storytelling, we gain perspective.  We, in that moment in time, make the conscious decision to focus on the values we truly have. Thus, a story or ACE seemingly locked in time and space is opened up, unfrozen... allowing us to own the story instead of the story owning us. 

  • Layer Four: Fire -  Free My Story.  The transition to Layer Four comes during adulthood for most of us when we begin to share our stories with others. When we develop meaningful relationships we typically go deep into our stories from the first three layers. This is also our time to take serious responsibility with child rearing, leadership roles in our communities and blending into other families through marriage or life partnership. As we take ownership of our story, we desire to share with others. The fourth layer of story is sharing with others a story we now own, from our lives; of the truths and understanding of the events of life we’ve gained. When we do so… we externalize the story. We release it from our thoughts and our bodies where it has been locked for so long, setting free the negative energies. Sharing stories, we now own, in a public setting, makes a commitment to our path we will walk into the future, free from old thoughts, worries and ACE’s… free to focus on the present.  Through our courage and conviction, we become a light bringer to those still burdened by their old frozen past struggles. As we craft, share and own the stories of our lives, we create a “grand narrative” of our lives, in our own words, going back to our roots and creating a record of the life we’ve lived.

  • Layer Five:     Light - My Waking Internal Narrative. I Walk My Path. Be aware that we wake up every day with a story shaping our thoughts which we turn into actions. The story formed through the first four layers of story exists only in our thoughts. In our memories. Becoming aware means, you begin to take active ownership of your story in the present moment. Today is the only day you have any agency in. The same will be true tomorrow. The past, because it is a memory, and the future, because, as of yet, you have no agency, exists only in our thoughts. Therefore, painful memories/regret/ACE’S from the past along with anxiety/apprehension/worry about the future take us away from the only place we have the power to shape our lives.... today.  Understanding this intellectually is just a start. Through the process of owning our stories we are putting in the work needed to free ourselves to shape our lives without distraction from the past or anxiety about the future. The fifth layer is our internal story playing continuously in our minds every day. The grand narrative of our lives is composed a day at a time. 


  • Conclusion – Most of us are not fully aware of our waking internal narrative... the story that begins to be written each day when we wake up is composed of all of the preceding layers, even including our we experiences of the day before… we all have layers of story informing the matters of our life. Understanding the progression of the Five Layers of Story empowers us to take active creation of the story in the day we are in.... the only day we have agency to manifest our story. The foundations of our story come from the past where we tend to accept the details and the outcome as a frozen narrative that never changes. When you begin the crafting of story process we enter liminal space and deconstruct that frozen story based on our current perspective and take ownership of the story. When you do so, light shines on your path to awareness. Looking ahead to the next step, as owner, you say, “This is MyPath.” This begins by selecting an event in your life when everything changed. As you go through the crafting process and examine each element you will begin with a “before” sketch. A “before” sketch is about life before the event when change occurred. It sets the stage. Next is the “during” part. Sketch out the scene and actions during which everything changed. Finally, is the “after” part that reveals the way life changed and set us on a different path.… the before, the during and the after.

Own your story. Share it with the world. Humans crave story in all its glory... the joy... the pain... the triumphs... the sorrow. Learn to own your story on your path.
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