I have a lot of painful memories in my background. Do I really have to tell stories from my past?

The only stories we need are ones about activities you enjoyed doing. If you can't recall any enjoyable activities from your childhood or teen years, that's fine. You can just tell us about activities from your adult years that proved satisfying.

However, be careful about dismissing your past too quickly. Yes, it may have been very troubled, perhaps even tragic. Nonetheless, giftedness is present regardless of circumstances, and it invariably finds a way to express itself—sometimes even defiantly. So despite a generally negative environment, it's likely that you can recall a memory or two—no matter how seemingly small or insignificant—that allowed you to find some small joy in the midst of the overall darkness.

For example, as a child a woman endured significant abuse from her mother, who was probably mentally ill. Her father was no longer in the home. Money was always scarce, and the girl lived in constant fear that the family would be evicted from their apartment. In many ways, it's a miracle that she grew up to become a rather successful executive in a thriving company.

When pressed as to whether she could recall anything enjoyable about her childhood, she admitted that one of her favorite "secret" activities was to watch a certain program on television that featured the Story Lady. She loved to listen to the stories, which activated her vivid imagination. She began to create stories of her own, and while she didn't have the means to write them out on paper, she connected different rooms in the house with the scenes and plots she devised for her stories. She felt that storytelling was a way to escape the pain of her situation. It may have been. Regardless, she spent hours in that activity and could still recall specific details and characters from among the hundreds of stories she had created over this years.

In our process, you get to decide which stories you want to tell. we will never push you to tell us about anything you'd rather not discuss. With us, it's all positive. While everyone has something in their past that they'd rather not reveal, we are only interested in the best moments of your life.