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Using Compare and Contrast in Your Lifestory

By Tom Gilbert - Copyright © June 25, 2015

A writing technique used in schools can be very beneficial when approaching your life story. Using a compare and contrast technique will provide an interesting perspective.

Comparing and contrasting things helps us see the similarities and differences. If you apply it to an event or time in your life it may help you to better understand and appreciate what happened and what you are like now. This can be very important in a memoir, autobiography or lifestory.

One of the ways I use this technique on a regular basis is reviewing my journals. I’ve been keeping them for years and since about 2001 on my computer. At first I just kept my journals saved by year in Word documents. In 2009 I started using The Journal software. With this program I can easily go to previous journal entries from past years. Sometimes I will look back a year, two, four or more years to see what I wrote. I compare it to what I am journaling about now. It can be quite revealing to look at, say the month of June in 2010, and compare it to June of 2015. Five years ago I was back in school training to become a teacher. This was a major career change after over thirty years working in the radio industry.

The comparing and contrasting of past dates with present time provides more than an insight into what was taking place in my life. It also provides an ongoing arc to my personal history, a narrative of my own timeline. More than that, reviewing past journal entries from the same months in previous years also gives me perspective of my life journey. All of us have significant life experiences, but often the daily business of living varies little. If I compare and contrast previous year’s entries about the things I was concerned with it can help me spot areas that might need some change. Maybe I was still obsessed over finding balance in work and family life. On the flipside, I might have expressed gratitude over life, appreciation for the good things such as family, and the spiritual growth that has resulted from dealing with my life challenges.

Here’s another idea where compare and contrast can be helpful. Take the example of being a parent. Nothing can be more rewarding – or more taxing – than raising children. If you are a parent I’m sure you know what I mean. Have you ever spent time comparing your parenting experiences with your own childhood? There may be good lessons you picked up from Mom and Dad. On the contrary, you may have sworn to never do certain things your parents did! Compare and contrast the parental styles. Consider what it was like to be your mother or father, taking into account their situation. Kids are kids, but times change and cultural, economic, political, spiritual and other factors do play a part in our upbringing.

I hope you can see from these few examples how useful a compare and contrast technique can be for your lifestory writing.

You can read other life story articles here.






 

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