A good storyteller is not just gifted in telling a tale, they cultivate a voice that people want to hear, a narrative that draws people in, and maintain a perspective that only peeks out at the audience from behind the curtains instead of blaring at them through a megaphone.  But it’s there all the same.  Because stories are only as good as the teller and for the tale to come alive the teller has to be invested in it. But like a good book, a story told has three parts, the author, the work itself, and it’s audience.  To come alive it must have all three so storytelling is as much about being heard, as it is about the storyteller.

Each person is a storyteller weaving meaning and message from the raw stuff of life.  We tell ourselves narratives about our own inner life, we tell others stories about ourselves, and we frame the Universe, our experiences and choices, through the perception of our world that we create through story.  Which can be rich and wonderful, dramatic and terrifying, cold and monochrome, full of opportunity, steeped in drudgery, or surrounded by treachery.  It’s all in the telling.  So while it may seem snooty, it’s really true that to a great extent we can change our lives by reframing our narrative.

Healing comes from releasing the stories that our families wove for us, if they no longer fit or contain facts that no longer prove true.  Wonder and magic can come from telling the stories we’ve kept inside for far too long.  Or speaking the unabridged version of stories for the first time.  And the awakening that comes from knowing that the stories you’ve been told forever are just that, stories, can free you from a lifetime of pain and regret.  It can also help at family gatherings and the holidays when you realize that your relatives have old stories stuck in their heads and that is their burden to carry, not your reality.  Choose not to let those stories inform your actions or your behaviors and you might seem then start to reframe their narrative, possibly for the better.

Try this exercise for yourself and see what stories you recognize.  Write your life story in one page (single spaced with no margins if you feel the need).  No bullet point over view, no listing of dry facts, really write your story.  What does that story become when you are limited as to length?  What patterns emerge?  Give your story to someone who doesn’t know you well, but whom you trust and see what they see in it.  I’ve done this myself so I can tell you, the story I wrote, which carried narratives I’ve had in my head for years, was exactly not what the reader found in it.  The stories they found, the perspectives they gave me were mind blowing and really helped me see things in a new and different way.