Life and Death Are in The Power of Your Story

Written by Dawn, A passionate, dynamic, and amazing storyteller and youth advocate. Through the power of story, self-appreciation and self acceptance, she shares how people can transform their life experiences into a path of manifesting their dreams and demonstrating that anything is possible when people embrace who they are. “Stories empowers us to connect with each other.”

Each and every one of you is somebody’s storyteller. The power of life and death is in your story. You have the power to save a life! You have the power to change a life! Starting with your own. Begin seeking your storytellers. They are everywhere. In the classroom. At the bus stop. At church. At work. At your next meeting. At a party. Internet platforms. Anywhere. Seek and you shall find. The teacher or mentor appears when the student/mentee is ready. If you have experienced being abandoned, rejected, discriminated against, oppressed, abused, disappointed, diagnosed, hurt or have experienced loss, you have a story to tell. Your story transcends your credentials, race, gender, age, occupation, diagnosis or position. The story is the great equalizer. Your story does not require a consent form, a meeting with the team or a note from parents. It can be used anywhere, in any situation, with anyone at ay time. Your story can give hope, inspiration, encouragement. Every single one of us has this power to create change through meaningful dialogue and authenticity.

Storytelling As a Tool

There are days when you can’t get out of the bed. Its like walking through a black and white film while everyone else is living in technicolor. Hope is gone and life has lost its meaning. You feel like you have no purpose. Your dream never came true and the vision you once had for life seems impossible or unattainable. Even though you go through the motions of life, work, school, even social activities, deep down inside at some level you’ve really given up. You just want to close the curtains, eat junk food, watch Netflix or surf the Internet until you can get the little relief that sleep brings. Woven through all of that are stories that go something like this: “It’s too late.” “I missed my chance.” “No one wants me.” “I can’t have what I really want anyway.” “It will take too long.” “I’m not really worth it.” Stories become beliefs. Stories rewire our brains. The stories we tell can make us or break us.

When I was in my dark place, I didn’t understand the relationship between my story and how I felt. It felt as if we were one. But a good storyteller knows how to challenge a bad story. Yes, there is such a thing as a bad story. A bad story is one that makes us feel like crap. It’s one that affirms the lies we’ve been told all our lives about how we are not good enough. Why we need someone else’s permission to shine. We challenge the bad story by asking if it’s true. We challenge the bad story by asking “Whose story is this really?” We challenge the bad story by asking ourselves: “What story am I telling myself?” Most of the time we don’t even realize that the source of our misery is the crappy story! Crappy story equals crappy feelings! How exciting is the prospect that we have a tool that is with you all the time, that could shift how we feel. Right here. Right now. The closer a story gets to the truth, the better it feels, the healthier it feels. It motivates us to action. Lies never feel good, especially the ones we believe about ourselves. Lies are using the power of the story in a negative way. Instead, focus on stories that affirm our inherent worth and value.

The Power of Your Story

So, what can you do when presented with someone who does not know the power of their story? How can you show up as the storyteller in someone’s life? First, you can tell them your own story. This establishes connection and trust. Every teacher, counselor, care-provider has a student-friendly or patient-friendly, story you can tell. And if you don’t, create one. Today! Second, you invite the person to look deeper at the story they are telling: Challenging false stories (lies) might sound like this: “Is it true that it’s too late?” “How do you know that you can’t have what you really want?” “Who told you that it’s too late?” “Why do you believe that you’re not worth it?” It’s never telling someone that they are wrong. But inviting them to find that out for themselves. Because when you discover that the story you’ve been telling does not honor your life’s journey, puts yourself down and continues the cycle of self-violence or self-destruction. You will be happy you were wrong. Because it feels so good to get in touch with who you really are.

The first story I believed was that the abuse that I experienced was my fault. That was a lie. As a result, I almost died. My storyteller challenged my story by simply telling his/hers, and as a result I gave birth to a new story, a true story that freed me from a debilitating depression as I saw the truth of my situation. When I discovered this power, I wanted to share it with others in hopes that a life might be saved. The act of storytelling is very rewarding. Storytelling is a powerful way to meet our needs. Let’s break down what’s behind the power of the story.

The Power of your story is: Your description of something you personally encountered, undergone, or lived through that produces an idea, feeling or opinion in the mind of another person. You possess the ability to produce a feeling in the mind of another person, not excluding yourself. For many of us it’s a feeling of powerlessness that keeps us stuck. I believe the mechanism behind the power of the story are six needs that it meets.

  1. Significance: This is your story as “I matter”. Your story is unique to you and no one else has the same one. It is what makes you special. It is what connects you to a sense of meaning in life, that you are important and worthy of consideration.
  2. Security/Certainty: This is your story as “Identity”. Your story is how you perceive yourself, you have the power to define yourself, you are in control of the narrative, you can say these are the experiences that have made you who you are today.
  3. Variety/Uncertainty: This is your story as “a risk taker”. This trains us in the challenge of vulnerability and overcoming the fear of what others will think, it is always a risk to share our story but when you do, you realize it is always worth it.
  4. Love/Connection: This is your story as “Connection”. Your story is one of the most authentic ways you can connect with another person. Telling our story leaves you feeling more connected and less alone in the world.
  5. Growth: This is your story as “Healing”. Whenever you tell your story or are told someone’s story, you have the opportunity to experience the healing that comes from the awakening and inspiration of a shared experience.
  6. Contribution: This is your story as a “Gift”. View your story as something precious and valuable, as priceless as the storyteller, that has the power to save a life, shift someone’s mood or give the gift of connection. This increases your sense of self-esteem and self-worth.

As a storyteller you matter, you know who you are, you take risks, you connect with others, you are a healer and you have a precious gift to give. You will find that the more you develop the storyteller in you, the more confident you will become.

From Vulnerability to Strength: Tell Your Story

But. And yes, there is always a but. The storytellers “but.” When you tell your story, people might walk out on you. When you tell your story, there may be times when no one will believe you. When you tell your story, you might be accused of playing the victim. When you tell your story, you might be accused of lying. When you tell your story, some might say that you are too much or not enough. When you tell your story, you will see who you real friends are. When you tell your story, someone might try to shut you down. When you tell your story, others might spread rumors and gossip about you. When you tell your story, it is a gift that some might not want or appreciate. But don’t ever stop telling your story, tap even deeper into the power of the story to transform despair into hope, and speak new life into old wounds.

You will be able to say that: “Even though others tried to silence me, even though others tried to shame me, even though others tried to twist my words and throw them back in my face, even though others marginalized me, I am still here to tell my story—I am resilient!”

It’s your story. It’s your journey. You lived it. You’re the survivor. You’re the gift. You’re the healer. Your story is yours and yours alone, so own it! You’re not alone, you’re not crazy. Your life experiences are valid. What you experienced was real. You’re not invisible. You are seen. You are heard. You are strength. Own your story. Own yourself.

The most important story is the one you tell yourself. The better you feel, the closer you are to the truth of your worth. Your story is someone else’s healing. No one can ever take away the power of your story. I am here because of someone else’s story. And I hope someone else will be here because of mine.

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