Can you imagine zooming out and seeing your whole life from a wider perspective?
From this perspective you might see recurring patterns and connections between different life events that bring the story of your life together.
How does it work?
When there is a meaningful life event, it is often not unique and we can find previous life events that carry a similar theme or feeling about them. By putting the date of a specific event in to a chart (see chart below), we can calculate when those previous events may have occurred. Looking at these connections between different life events can give us hints to why the difficulties of today are so meaningful and how these events may be linked to a trauma in the past that has not yet been processed.
Using the Timeline Chart
In the chart above I entered my birthday and the date of an important event: the end of my military service and beginning of a new stage of life. Once I enter those two dates, my age will be calculated by the chart along with half my age, a third of my age and so on. If this event was deeply important for me, I may discover that in the past, similar events have happened in my personal life at those parallel ages.
For me, half of my end-of-military age is at the transition to a new school at the beginning of middle school. A quarter of my age came to approximately the first day of 1st grade and the first time ever going to school.
It's important to say that to me these are important life events and major transitions, but for other people it may not add up the same way.
The story of Jane*
Another example of using the Life Timeline is the story of Jane who did her timeline with me. She came to explore and understand aspects of her health and to uncover what could be the underlying reasons or events connected with the cancer she had been diagnosed with. When we put the age of the diagnosis at 38 in to the chart, we found that at 19 (half the age) she had a meaningful break up (separation) and at exactly 9.5 (the age of the diagnosis divided by 4) she experienced the traumatic death of her father.
The story of Mary*
When I spoke with Mary, she shared that she became a grandmother for the first time at around the age of 56. Interestingly, at 28 she gave birth to her first daughter and became a mother for the first time. When we explored what happened at half that age, she shared that at14 she had her first menstrual cycle and felt she had become a woman.
It's important to say that this will not necessarily be the case for all women, but for this specific woman these events were so meaningful that they were repeated in exact cycles of 14 and 28.
These are a couple of examples among many others showing how previous events may be connected to things that happen to us today. By seeing the cycles of our life in a systematic way, we can reach a deeper understanding and meaning, assisting us in the process of healing.
*Names have been changed to protect the identities of the women mentioned above.
There are many themes you can explore in this way. Whether meaningful events or painful traumas, the themes tend to repeat in specific cycles and you can find out more about each theme when looking deeper into your own timeline. It's possible for you to do a timeline having in mind your CAREER, MONEY, FAMILY, MEANINGFUL SEPARATIONS or many more issues and themes.
By exploring your Life Timeline, you might find more peace knowing that challenges are continuously coming and going and that life is in constant change. The Timeline shows us that life is less random than it may seem and that we can prepare ourselves for the future by getting to know our past.