Due to be published on October 15, Be Your Own Fairy Tale is an inspiring and practical exploration of how we can tap into the deep-rooted and powerful symbolism of fairy tales to bring about positive change in every aspect of our lives. Alison Davies is an author, columnist, freelance writer and professional storyteller. She’s a regular columnist for Soul Spirit and Chat-its- Fate magazines, and writes pieces for Natural Health and a range of educational magazines. As a storyteller, she runs sessions on how stories can be used to enhance teaching and learning, and also leads workshops on how to tap into the power of stories for self-development.
How is Be Your Own Fairy Tale organised? Which themes do you explore?
I’ve tried to set out the chapters in the style of a fairy tale, in that you have the hero setting off on their quest in the initial stages, moving through various challenges and transformations, dealing with fears as they plunge deep into the dark and scary forest, and then realising their dreams. So in a way, the chapters take you on a journey. Having said that you can dip into the book at any point, you don’t have to read it in any specific order. I’ve tried to cover all the the important themes that crop up repeatedly in fairy tales, from the idea of transformation, to shape shifting and juggling different roles, I’ve also looked at how we can work with stories to combat fears and phobias and to manifest the things we want. I like the idea that we are the hero in our own tale, so in effect we can save ourselves and find the perfect happy ending.
In Be Your Own Fairy Tale you say that tales are littered with potent symbols, which can be used for personal development to overcome obstacles and break bad habits. In which way it is possible to tap into fairy tales’ power in order to use them as exercises that will encourage new ways of thinking?
Well there are so many ways to tap into the power of fairy tales. Whether you simply put yourself in the story and learn from the moral lessons in the narrative, or you take it a step further and use the tale as a springboard. You can pick up on specific symbols within the tale, and use these in simple practical exercises to trigger your subconscious mind into new ways of thinking, or you can use the story as inspiration and write your own tale, weaving it into your psyche and changing the way you think and feel about things that have happened in your past. Once you begin to work with tales in this way, you’ll see there are so many creative options open to you.
Throughout the book you provide practical exercises and step-by-step activities. What is the best way to approach these exercises?
To be honest, I always tell people to do what feels right for them. So if parts of the activity appeal more than others then it’s fine to adapt it. I like to encourage people to be creative, so they can take my exercises as a starting point and then put their own spin on things. I’ve tried to keep things simple and practical. I also think that once you get into the mindset of using stories for personal development, you’ll become addicted and find yourself doing it automatically.
What is your personal experience in using fairy tales for self-improvement?
For me personally, I believe that for a long time was I stuck in a kind of ‘cinderella syndrome’. I was constantly looking for someone to come along and save me, to make my life better. I couldn’t actually see that I was already the princess in my own story, and that I had the power to save myself. I remember re-reading some of my favourite tales and actually wondering what would have happened if the prince hadn’t come along. Then I decided to re-write them, at first in my head and then on paper. Once I’d taken this step it was easy for me to see that I was also creating my own narrative in a similiar way, and that I could just as easily change it for the better.
What is the most meaningful experience you witnessed in one of your workshops?
There have been many light bulb moments. In particular, I saw one woman who was struggling to find the right way to get a difficult message across in the work place. She was dealing with some awkward colleagues and had been put in a position of power but she didn’t feel entirely comfortable with it. Suddenly she could see how the ‘three little pigs’ could help her explain what she needed to, to her colleagues, without ruffling feathers, but in away that would get her message across. We also did some work on helping her unleash her inner hero, which gave her the confidence and belief that she needed to take on the mantle of a leader.
What was the first fairy tale that enhanced you when you were a child?
I have many favourites, but I think the Princess and the pea has always been one that I return to, time and again. I think this is because I’ve always believed that there’s so much more to a person than what you see on the surface. We tend to judge others by what we see, rather than digging deeper. This is something that’s always bothered me, and I now see that this is one of the key themes in this story. Because the girl that turns up on the prince’s doorstep is windswept and unkempt, the queen believes she cannot possibly be a princess so she tests her. It is quite a silly test too, using a pea and several mattresses, and in a way I think this highlights the ridiculousness of this approach in life.
Be Your Own Fairy Tale
Available on Watkins Publishing
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