Telling Your Story

A few nights ago I had the opportunity to spend
some time with a few of my dear Storytelling
colleagues, a wonderful group of inspired,
talented people who share my passion to tell
stories.

We were discussing the transformation of the story
as it moves from written form to the oral tale.
What happens when we tell the story that we have
just read? Or that someone has just told us? How
does the story change?

Part of the discussion reminded me of that game we
used to play as kids ‘chinese whispers’ – where
someone would whisper a message to someone else
and it would be passed down the line. The end
result was a completely distorted and usually very
funny message.

When I tell a story, I tell my story.
Even if I’m telling the story of Little Red
Riding Hood, it’s my version. The way I remember
it told to me as a child, or the book that I read
later and then all kinds of other influences. In
truth, the way I choose to tell a story will
include my attitudes and my beliefs. My
personality and my values all come through in the
story.

When I tell a story, I tell my story.
I tell who I am, or at least, how I see myself.
If I feel strong and positive, it’s in my story.
If I feel hurt or misjudged, it’s in my story. If
I feel like a success or a failure, it’s in my
story. If I feel victorious or like a victim,
it’s in my story.

And yet, so often we are oblivious to the stories
we tell. We all have people in our lives that
tell the same stories again and again. You know
the scene, you’re sitting around the dinner table,
the main course has just been served and Uncle Tom
starts saying, ‘it reminds me of when I travelled
to Paris in 1974’ and you know what’s coming next.
If fact you’ve heard the Paris story about 1974
times! Why is he stuck in his story? Why do we
get stuck in our own stories, and especially the
stories that really don’t serve us too well?

If we pause for a moment and think about how we
tell our stories, and of course why we tell them,
we can begin to tell more empowering stories,
stories of fun and laughter, stories that lead us
to a more positive experience of our own lives.

It really is that simple. When we tell stories
that are amusing and stories that are uplifting,
we really can make our lives more fun and more
joyful. When we tell stories of resilience and
strength, we really do feel stronger.

So let’s make a wish, right now, that we will hear
and tell good stories this week. That’s right,
turn off the television and computer, fold up the
newspaper, take a walk in nature or look at something
beautiful, listen to some good music and then go
tell someone the story of that special moment.
And when this works like magic, do it again
tomorrow, and the day after! You’ll be surprised
how wonderful you feel!

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