The Power of Story

I have the privilege of sharing this content two times this month.  In my opinion, the handout, designed for audience distribution at SURVIVORville 2015 in Nashville, TN; and the National Wellness Conference in Minneapolis, MN; is worthy of a broader readership.  I hope you find it meaningful.

I describe change as the narrow spot in an hourglass. The sand, traveling from the top through that tight spot, arrives at the bottom with a new arrangement. Life is full of narrow spots. ~Ruth Bachman

Growing Through the Narrow Spots: Name Them, Tell their Story, and Gather Resources

The last of the human freedoms is to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances. ~Viktor Frankl

Change is inevitable. It is the rule, not the exception. Small wonders happen every day; the kind we assume, like waking from sleep or the sun rising and setting; and the kind that surprise us, like a rainbow after a sudden thunderstorm. We look at these “natural” changes with anticipation and comfort, and even experience a bit of awe at their existence. Then there are all the “other” changes that are out of the natural rhythm of life. Changes in our family and personal life, finances, employment, living conditions, health, and more. When change occurs in our lives, we think we can control it, but the opposite is true. We can only control how we respond to change. Our attitude is critical.

Everything is held together with stories. That is all that is holding us together, stories and compassion. ~ Barry Lopez

Narrative is an essential part of our human nature. We live it, hear it and create it everyday. Stories delight us. They connect us to others and help us process, heal, problem solve, express feelings, remember and celebrate. There is a relationship between teller and listener. To enter a story is to make room for its teller. With someone to hear the story, tellers know they are not alone and feel gratitude for being heard. As listeners to someone else’s story, we realize that we can help just by listening, being a witness. The listener confirms the worth of the teller by attending to the story being told. When we tell personal stories out loud, it is like shining a light into a dark closet, a way to discover wholehearted pathways to renewal and transformation.

Live your life from your heart. Share from your heart. And your story will touch and heal people’s souls. ~Melody Beattie

Courage is required to share some stories. Trusting the listener is essential. The root definition of courage – coeur – means heart. Wholeheartedly sharing stories, as a teller or a listener, strengthens resilience and awakens new inspiration for discovering purpose in life.

Every one of us is a wonder. Every one of us has a story. ~Kristin Hunter

It is a mistake to compare one person’s life journey with another’s, all are different and worthy and one is not more important or profound than another. We are all complex, textured, layered beings. The uniqueness of our stories brings the richness and texture to our relationships, communities and our world. Your story is important because it is yours.

It is an insistent grace that draws us to the edge and beckons us surrender safe territory and enter our enormity. ~Stephen Levine

When faced with a life-changing event, most people feel overwhelmed. It often feels like going over a waterfall with an inner tube, drowning in new vocabulary and experiences. While there is a myriad of tangible and intangible resources available to aid in mitigating this feeling, there is not always a clear path to discovering those resources. A change in perspective is essential – moving from your head, which is racing with questions of “How” and “Why” and sinking into your heart, which assures us of possibilities for acceptance. Take the time to slow down, breath deeply and listen to your heart. This is not a selfish act. It is the cornerstone of self-care.

Maybe stories are just data with a soul. ~Brené Brown

Research shows that resilience is the outcome of being able to respond to change with resources that promote well-being and cushion us against being overwhelmed by it. A resilient response to change requires the skills of patience and persistence; along with setting the intention to work toward some goal, having faith in the outcome, accepting some coaching and help from others, maintaining a sense of humor, expressing gratitude and realizing that grace is present in it all.

Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves,…. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. ~Rainer Marie Rilke

Who are the people you know who live with a spirit of abundance? Those are the people you want to be around when you are experiencing significant change. Ask for their help. You may well discover that asking someone to help – allowing someone to help – is a gift to them as well as a gift to you. That help may come from a variety of sources because narrow spots affect all 5 dimensions of life: cognitive, behavioral, emotional, physical and spiritual. Remember that wisdom has no age requirement.

Change is inevitable. Transformation is intentional. ~Ruth Bachman