Why are stories so powerful?
I think it's because they let us know, through a feeling, that there's another way, many ways, a multitude of ways to experience life. There are an infinite number of ways someone can do, have, be, overcome, rise above to live an intentional life... or not. Either one is that person's choice, consciously or subconsciously, and ends up being the story of their life. We can learn from all of them.
A story where someone has chosen to rise from the trenches of abuse or poverty or neglect and decided to do things differently than had been done to them - becoming philanthropic, motivational, brave, forgiving. Or maybe someone who grew up privileged and gave it all up to experience simplicity and to serve others. Or maybe someone became blind, moved past the intensity of self-pity, and used their experience to go on and teach others who were blind. Or maybe someone identified as a victim of some kind for decades and then finally moved to the other side of that, becoming self-less, grateful, gentle, happy, more productive than consumptive.
Or stories where people didn't make it out of the trenches, who stayed stuck like quicksand, who couldn't quite find a way to turn the light on in the dark to expose what they thought was the boogie man but was really just their own shadow.
Don't we all love a good story? We are drawn to stories of triumph, beating all odds, turn-arounds... stories of the heart.
Aren't we also drawn to stories where people are suffering, downtrodden, at the bottom, on the edge?... stories that make us feel something, a mix of something.
Either way, someone else's story is an opportunity to learn, to expand, to grow from as if it were yours.. whether in tragedy or triumph, in bitterness or inspiration, in a nightmare or a dream come true, we can become a student of life by asking ourselves, "What if that were me? What would I do? How do I want to live? What do I want my story to be?"
People come into my clinic all the time and bless me with their stories. And I observe them. I learn from them. I listen to them. And I get to tell mine, too. Both sides listen and learn, tucking away useful little snippets for consideration.
I see my little 200 square foot cinder block office space as a place of alchemy where stories of despair, heartache, grief, tragedy, pain can transform into stories of attained goals, breakthroughs and healings witnessed and celebrated. Joy and gratitude felt and embodied. Validation, support, understanding. Relief. Softening. But also confusion, anxiety, restlessness about taking responsibility for life and what that looks like, what that means, what's next.
Einstein said, "Energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be changed from one form to another." I see this change in my little studio happen every day I go to work. I see it in the vitality of the plants. I hear the ravens outside and I see the red rock portal to the mighty Colorado river carry it on downstream. I see it on people's faces and in the difference in how they carry themselves from when they walked in to when they walk out.
I had a woman in her 80's once come in a few years ago, borderline interrogating me about my approach and what all I do, brow furrowed, lips pursed, gruff. Ninety minutes later when she opened the door, she looked at me, and with a relaxed but studious face and sparkly eyes she said to me, "You look different." And with a smile I said, "You look different. Might it be that you feel differently and so you're seeing differently?" I love that story of that woman.
Something really cool happens when we take the witnessing of a story told or listened to one step further. When we use other people's experiences or use the energy available from sharing our own. Instead of being content with just the insights, we can use the energy gained from the insights to become more intentional with who we want to be and how we want to live. Letting the who we want to be be the driver for what we do and what we want.
When we initiate what we've learned from other's mistakes/hardships/victories/triumphs and we apply it to our lives by living intentionally, now we're all hands on deck in our own life adventure. Every action, thought and behavior stems from that decision and intention. Maybe we don't decide so much what was handed to us early on or even last week, but we get to decide what we do with it.
Stories are powerful, they stir something in us. Remember that you are the main character. You have the power of being led, inspired, guided and then using that energy to live with intention, an aim, a North Star. Stories are little gifts that can fuel your inner fire, lighting the way for your own life adventure. They're there for reminding us, expanding us, stretching us, guiding us, shaping us, turning us onto and tapping us into what's possible.