Telling Stories is such a fundamental part of human communication, interaction and connection. We remember the content of a good story but their power lies in the way they make us feel and the deeper more significant impact beyond the narrative.
Stories can connect us by experience. All of us have gone through a time of difficulty when we feel a hard period of our lives is never going to end. Stories of people who have gone through similar experiences can break the feeling of isolation, shining light in dark places. Sometimes stories show us that what we believed to be fixed about a situation is not, that life moves on and what we judged as wholly a bad experience can have, in retrospect, some positive benefits.
Stories can be a call to action. The telling of an injustice or an oppressive situation or a difficulty can not only connect us spiritually but unite us in collective action. They are a way of telling people why an issue is important to us and they can be the catalyst for changing a story or narrative in the future.
Stories can lead us to reflect, their potency in the effect they have on how we feel and what we do in the longer term. They can make us reframe something in our past or change our approach to something in the future. They can expose our fears, our vulnerabilities, our loves, revealing things about us hidden to others or even to ourselves.
What they do for us is as broad as the stories themselves. In the last week, I was given two great gifts, two stories told to me by people I met that made me think about two things, the nature of success and how in most people’s lives whatever they call ‘success’ is rarely a linear or straightforward story and secondly the nature of everyday courage through the beauty of hearing someone express a difficulty they faced and overcame, that many people would not admit to or share.
As the listener, I felt gratitude to those who told me their story and a deeper connection and affection for them. I was thinking about their stories many days later and reflecting on what they meant for me. It highlighted for me the power we all have in sharing our own stories. They connect the ‘I’ to ‘US’, individual events becoming a shared experience of ‘life’.
If there is a power and beauty in listening to a story, there is an equal power and beauty in telling our own