Story telling is an art, a beautiful, connective, healing, human art!
I love stories! I love telling stories! I love listening to stories!
One of my greatest joys raising my children was reading them all my favourite stories from my childhood! Every night at bed time we piled together onto someone’s bed and we shared stories; in those moments we shared more than books – we shared their perceptions, and mine, about the characters, and how they handled situations, and how we would do it different … there were stories in the stories, and it was a beautiful connection every night.
Our stories can either connect us, or isolate us; I believe it has a lot to do with where, and why the story is being told!
If you are going through a tough situation and tell that story to a friend; the story will make it’s way out of you and into reality. In reality a story is held up to scrutiny, and measured for validity; and in true friend fashion we are called to edit the story if we are wallowing, if we are being too hard on ourselves, or someone else. We are called out, and the story gets adjusted to better reflect the truth of our situation and support us in our healing journey.
That same story held in side, written and rewritten in our head; never seeing the light of reality can become a massive obstacle in our healing journey!
Our minds are designed for story telling, it’s how we process life! We insert bits and pieces of information, throw in some reactionary emotions, and our mind creates a story … fiction? non-fiction? hurtful? healing? The mind really doesn’t care … so long as there is a story!
I’ve spent a great deal of time over the last 10 years working on my story telling; and one of the greatest gifts I have given myself is permission to share my truth. I don’t always have fluffy rainbow reactions to life, I’m not always grateful first … and I am no longer ashamed of how I might be feeling; I recognize that the shitty first draft (to quote Brené Brown) is just that, a shitty first draft and I get to edit it!
The editing process for me usually involves a lot of questions internally before it sees the light of reality with a friend (usually my husband – he’s gotten pretty good at witnessing my darkness). Those questions often include things like …
Is this mine to control … if this isn’t my story then there is no need for me to do any editing.
Is this changeable .. cause if I can’t change it I don’t need to spend a lot of time beyond acceptance and moving on.
Is how I’m feeling really about this event … often times if I am out of my integrity in one place, I will overact in another, so what’s this really about?
What advice would I give my best friend … taking myself out of the equation is always helpful, what would I suggest a friend do in this situation? Try that!
These questions are nothing like how I used to handle struggles!
My story telling used to involve calling everyone I knew to share my very biased story, enlisting their support and hopefully their sympathy to help validate my suffering! Misery loves company! If they didn’t respond the way I wanted them to, they clearly didn’t care about me, if they did respond the way I hoped then I had validation that my feelings were justified, and I would put that story on replay to fuel my hurt feelings … sound familiar?
Ask yourself this … why would you want to stay stuck in that story?
Healing hurt isn’t found wallowing in it, no matter how much support you are getting to validate that story! Healing is about allowing yourself those feelings, sit with them because often there are great lessons to be found in them! What I have learned over this story telling journey, along with my ability to rewrite the story I am telling myself; is that my feelings are my truest guides to growth! The trick is being aware of them, question them – never take them at face value; once you understand them you can begin the process of healing them.
There is so much emphasis on letting go; struggles and hurt require more than dismissal; they require integration. Whether you are hurting because of your actions, or you were collateral damage in someone else’s story, those feelings have so much to teach you; they can’t do that if you don’t allow them! You gotta feel it to heal it!
No one likes to be uncomfortable, and I admit it is often very uncomfortable to sit with our feelings; but the alternative is spending your life in that shitty first draft! Constantly looking for validation for a story that isn’t true. What I know for sure is; I know now the stories I was trying to validate weren’t true; they were the armour I was carrying to prevent anyone from seeing who I really was!
Living our truth is an honourable path; albeit a difficult and courageous one! One of my favourite journal prompts these days when I find myself in struggle is ‘tell me a story’; taking the time to journal what I feel the story is, offers me the opportunity to question myself, to understand where the story is coming from; and when I know what it is really about I can being the process of editing for healing!
How do you tell your story?