Why tell a story

Why tell a story

Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today. 

Storytelling opens the heart. When a story is told with honesty and shares the good and bad parts of a life, the heartbreak and sorrow, the joy and wonder, the lessons learned and things lost, something happens. We become more human and we see others as more human, too. 

I often think about when I began to become deeply aware of the power of stories.

It happened when I attended the World Domination Summit in 2015. WDS is an annual event that takes place in Portland, OR over a long weekend. It is a beautiful mixture of speaker presentations, informational booths, workshops, a book-selling stand, a joining together in an attempt to break a world record, quiet rooms for introverts, yoga or other exercise groups, and individual meet-ups.

At the heart of the event are the presenters on the stage telling their stories. Those stories inspired me. By the time I left to come home, I had traveled a dozen journeys of the heart with my fellow attendees. We laughed, we cried, we learned, we unlearned and then learned some more. 

Share what you want to do with your life

Outside the presentations, attendees shared stories with each other. Standing in line to come inside the theater that very first day, the woman in line next to me, Kristen, asked me why I had come. This is a question attendees ask and are asked a lot. “What attracted you to this event? What do you want to do with your life?” You don’t usually ask these questions of strangers. We ask what you do, not what you want to do. 

Kristen and I were chatting with some other folks who were also waiting in line and then she mentioned something about the human brain, about the science of neurology. I had read a bit about the subject myself, especially since it relates to how life coaching works. I told her my story and how I was inspired to be a coach. She told me hers. Standing there in line, I felt a deep kinship with her. Her story moved me to tears. 

She told me how several years ago her twin sister had died, killed by a drunk driver at age 19, and rather than face the enormous grief it caused, she lost herself in becoming overly busy. After a few years, she was suffering from epilepsy and seizures. No doctor could find what was physically wrong with her. She ended up in a wheelchair and it was believed she was close to death. Someone finally suggested she try hypnotherapy. It worked. The seizures stopped and she felt infinitely lighter. It worked so well that she decided to become a hypnotherapist herself. Being from a Christian family and living in a small town down South, this decision was not accepted. So she moved to the Northwest and got her certification. When we talked, she had been practicing for 3 years. 

Be unflinchingly vulnerable

One of the speakers at WDS, Jeremy Cowart, an artist, photographer, videographer and humanitarian told about his life of struggle and redemption. Littered with times of despair and sorrow, his story grabbed me. It was inspiring and highly engaging.

From failing in school to finding his calling with art, Jeremy became very successful, traveled the world and began telling other people’s stories with his photo and video work. Including ones about Ugandan child soldiers who are working towards healing by using art, Rwandan refugees who are reconciling with the killers of their friends and family, Haitian victims of the earthquake who speak words of hope and gratitude and love.

He was equally brave to tell us his sorrow for his own brother’s sudden death just a few months ago. Jeremy let us see him be unflinchingly vulnerable. 

Use grief to heal others

Megan Devine’s story was equally as heart-breaking. She lost the love of her life suddenly when he was swept away by a swollen river and drowned right before her eyes. Finding help to overcome her grief and trauma was not easy. She was a mental health therapist herself, but even her training and experience didn’t prepare her enough.

But she found her way. She now provides a refuge for those who are seeking to speak their grief without anyone trying to fix them. 

Tell your stories  

Tell your stories, I heard each one of these people say to me. Trust your own heart and your own truth.

[Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash]
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