Isn’t it true? Don’t you love them? I love to hear stories.
I hear them all day long, everyone I meet tells me one. Never mind…everyone I meet I tell one to! I think stories – both the hearing and the telling of them, are vital to living a healthy life. Sadly it’s becoming a forgotten art. Weird eh? You’d think that in this age of telecommunication devices that we would be more able to communicate stories better. But this isn’t so. Everyday I meet people simply dying to tell me a piece of their story. Even though most people have difficulty getting started it doesn’t usually take very long before the flood gates open and, well, then anything is liable to happen!
We tell stories for all kinds of reasons, to share, to uplift, to inspire, to create empathy, sympathy, pity. We tell stories to create fear, to intimidate, to cause worry but mainly we tell stories just to be heard. We want someone to witness the exciting and the mundane happenings of our lives. When I meet a client in pain, physical pain or emotional pain, I can guarantee you they have a story they’ve never told anyone! Or maybe even more importantly, a story that hadn’t been heard yet.
In my work I often tell stories to encourage people to tell me theirs. Life matters. The experiences of our lives matter. What we think, what we feel, what we do – it all matters. We are all connected, what happens to me affects you. None of us is separate. We are more the same than we are different. Hence, hearing a story can be a cathartic experience. Every story triggers another.
We sit in a precarious place in our society today. We are ambitious, fast paced and busy. We don’t sit around the dinner table (what’s a ‘dinner table’ again?) telling stories very often. Our culture is not founded in story telling like in generations past. Historically, around the globe, cultures were established and held together by their stories reflecting religious, spiritual and ethical belief systems. Generations of people and their stories have been lost around the world through genocide, persecution and war. Through the loss of their stories entire cultures disappeared from our history books, when the story chain is broken we all suffer.
Today we risk losing touch with one another; polite inquiries, courteous answers, no depth, no attachment. We lose sight of what matters. So let me remind you; our humanity matters, our empathy for our fellow man matters. In the rush to get on our way to do something we forget how to just be. In the isolation caused by running in different directions we forget to tell stories and quietly shift into keeping secrets. When we forget that our stories matter to the people we love we start believing that we have nothing important to say. When we keep all our business to our selves we start believing that we are entitled to our own private, isolated lives. We start behaving as though our actions have no impact on those around us. But this is impaired judgment. Our actions always have ramifications. Keeping the secrets doesn’t prevent hurt from happening – it just causes confusion, doubt, anxiety and frustration.
Telling our stories – about anything, and listening to stories allows people to feel worthy. It creates connections between souls. When stories are told from the heart with genuine interest and emotion they can build bridges. People feel safer in the world when they can tell their stories. They feel they belong to something bigger. We all – everyone of us – just want to be understood and witnessed. Repressed stories, feelings, or emotions create a bottle neck of energy that eventually let’s go in a torrential out pouring – often causing immeasurable harm. Tell your stories before someone gets hurt. Listen to the stories of others.
Today I went to a women’s business networking group – I heard many great stories, and told a few myself. It was a great day!
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