The power of storytelling

When we were children, nothing delighted us more than listening to a bedtime story. It allowed us to transport ourselves into another world (or time) an escape. As we got older, we began to read our own stories but not as often as we liked. Plus, those stories grew up as we did. No longer did we read the childhood fantasy and escapism stories. They were replaced by adult stories which consisted of grown up adventures and almost resembled life.

The art of storytelling is important for us to step back from life for a moment. Stories different tour lives allow us a chance to forget what may bother us that day. Stories that transport us back to our youth should not be forgotten but remembered or cherished.

But what if I don’t have time for stories anymore. I hear you. Yes, life can get busy as we focus on everyone’s needs but our own. If you re-read my post on Urgent vs Important, I show you how to assess your priorities so that you can free up time for yourself – even if it is just 30 minutes.

Storytelling is also used as a form of healing and to help you make sense of this complex thing called life. The telling of stories dates back to the beginning of time. Each generation has told stories to learn, to pass on knowledge and to entertain. Each story helps to understand and define the personality and life of each individual.

Each day you will tell stories; whether to yourself or others. These stories reconfirm your strengths but they can also help you learn to be the boss of your stories and turn your challenges into positives. You believe in your abilities and learn there is more than one right answer.

As a child your storytelling would have taught you the perspectives of truth from the angle of your parent or adult figure. You developed your belief system based on theirs. Only when you were exposed to other stories when you started school did you hear different stories. You may or may not have thought to question those stories, but you noticed they didn’t quite align to the beliefs you were taught.

This may cause you to doubt your abilities but if you challenge your belief system you can unlock a world of potential about what you can achieve. What you knew as truth before may not necessarily be true now.

The only limitation on how you live are those limits you place on yourself.

However, if you challenge your unconscious beliefs, and the stories you were told, you will discover your power to grow.

When you start to question your belief system and the stories you were told, you can begin to learn how to change your thoughts, your story and your potential to grow. You become aware of the stories that most influenced your life and draw on that power to heal.

One way to get to know and understand your stories is to have conversations with people you trust or through reflective journal writing.

How to structure your story

As you begin to write in your journal, start by organising the events of your life in a series of dot points. If you are visual, perhaps a mind map will be more suitable. This will allow you to make sense of your thoughts and memories to describe an event in your life and what happened.

When you construct meaningful stories for yourself, it becomes easier to understand overwhelming events and once organised it makes the event easier to deal with. Each time you retell a story it gives you a chance to organise your feelings and experiences about it.

Family stories

When you think back to the stories you heard about your family, what do you still believe to be true? Family stories and myths are powerful and can carry you forward from your childhood into your life as an adult. How were you described as a child? Organised? Messy? Lacked focus? How have these descriptions carried forward to who you are now? Are you able to challenge these stories about yourself? Is there a time in your life when you were actually the opposite of what described your child self.

Externalise the problem

To help you identify where change may be needed, it is important to separate yourself from the problem or issue. Shifting your focus will change the language you use to describe the situation. It creates a safe space for you to better relate to the situation and provides distance for healing. When you are able to see the problem as the problem and not you, it is easier to resolve.

Questions to help reflective journaling

Getting started on a journal can be hard, especially if journaling is not familiar to you. Journaling helps to get your thoughts in order if you find it difficult to verbalise them to a trusted confidant. Once you have separated yourself from the issue, the following open, reflective questions can help you understand its influence on you.

💚 When did this problem first appear?

💚 Have there been times when you have managed this problem well?

💚 Is there a purpose or gain to finding difficult to manage the problem?

💚 Is it true?

💚 Can you absolutely know it’s true?

💚 How do you react – what happens? – when you believe that thought?

💚 Who would you be without that particular thought?

💚 If you like, replace the word thought with story.

When you ask yourself reflective questions it helps to open you up to new ideas, opportunities and perspectives on the situation you are challenging.

How to rewrite your story

Begin by just writing. The facts, your feelings, how you react to your story. Don’t judge or edit what you write. As a memory comes to you, simply write it down. Healing through storytelling lies in exploring the message in your story. Go beyond the words and notice how the story makes you feel.

💜 Ask yourself questions as you write, such as:

💜 How does it make you feel?

💜 Do you feel happy, sad, inspired, dejected?

💜 What qualities does the story appear to have?

💜 Does the story accurately describe you? Who you are?

💜 Does the story only capture a small part of you?

As you tell your story, you will discover it may change as you change. Your perspectives change. Your feelings about that story change.

Reflection Time

Read back over what you have written. Are there any patterns in your choices or behaviours? Are there moments where you have overcome a challenge? A breakthrough moment can trigger ideas where you were able to turn a challenge into a positive strategy to use to tackle similar situations.

As you will discover, the only limit to rewriting your story is the one you place on yourself. A positive mindset gives you the power to make the changes to your story that you want.

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