Story-telling for good mental healthWritten by Michele Howe | | email@example.com
We’re all storytellers. Most of us can remember being read to from storybooks as children. Some of these tales were funny, some sad, some were meant to impart a life lesson, others just for fun. But every one contributed to our worldview and helped develop our critical-thinking process. What we believe shapes our behavior and our thinking; it did then and continues our entire lives. It is valuable to continue this practice into adulthood. Unfortunately, many don’t give enough thought to how much impact they have on those around them (and vice versa) via sharing their stories.
As adults living in a high-tech society, it is easy to become automatons. Self-dependent, self-sufficient, self-protective; to the nth degree, we have mastered the art of solo status in ways that are the most costly. Sure, we live in families, we may share an office, attend neighborhood gatherings. Yet simultaneously, we remain apart.
Author Frederick Buechner said one of the dangers of giving in to this ”separateness-strategy” is that we come to believe our fictional and ”highly edited version which we put forth in hope that the world will find it more acceptable than the real thing.”
Only as people venture forth with prudent self-story telling for the purpose enriching someone else’s life will others offer similar exchanges, and Buechner says, these purposeful acts, ”have a lot to do with what being human is all about.”
Reasons to tell a story
For laughs. Make my day by making me smile. Universally, laughing is good medicine for body and soul. Look for ways to exchange anger for kindness; rudeness for courtesy; irritability for patience. If lighthearted encouraging words escape you, simply offer your smile.
For learning. Pass on personal insight. Not everyone wants to grow through the school of hard knocks, so share your particular blend of knowledge + experience = maturity formula.
For good mental health. Every human experience is a common one. Though specifics may be unique, underlying emotions that drive individuals are not. Be willing to offer transparency when appropriate, a consistent voice of encouragement, and admissions of ”having walked that road before.”