WE all love a good story, and when spring still seems a way off and we are spending a lot of time inside there really is nothing better than curling up with a good book or a podcast and immersing ourselves in the world of storytelling.
National Storytelling Week from February 1-8 is organised by the Society for Storytelling and supports and promotes storytelling in the UK. Oral storytelling is one of our most ancient artforms and continues to this day as a vibrant part of culture throughout the world in one form or another.
Reading or hearing other people’s stories has many benefits that reach far beyond the sheer enjoyment of listening to them. We learn so much from the stories of others and since the beginning of time, people have told and shared their tales as well as listened to and learned from other story tellers.
As well as consciously powering down, relaxing and de-stressing, engaging in story telling can distract ourselves from the challenges and difficulties we may be facing in our own lives while we briefly visit the life and world of another story teller.
But listening to other stories can also help us to tell our own and gives us a brilliant opportunity to gain profound insights into ourselves and inspiration for making changes to our own lives.
So, what is YOUR story?
This question could be answered in a number of different ways.
I could be asking you what your LIFE story is. Where you come from, what your background is, about your family and what you have done with your life.
Or I could be asking you to TELL me a story that you have perhaps wanted to write yourself. A creative masterpiece that has been languishing in a notebook for far too long and now needs to be released to the world!
I could be asking you about a specific event or happening that you may have EXPERIENCED and have a STORY to tell about it.
But what I really want to know is what is your REAL story and why is it important to tell it?
We can all tell a story about our lives as we see them, but this is often a perceived truth, self-fulfilling prophecy or a learned self-belief. This happens when we are persistently told something by someone about ourselves. Often these things we are told are negative and damaging and often they are told to us by people who we believe and trust.
If we are told the same thing over and over again, we will eventually believe it. The story that someone else is telling us about ourselves becomes our new truth and belief and it can seriously impact on just about every area of our life.
It is important to ask yourself if the story you tell is your real story or is a story that you have been told about yourself by someone else and you have chosen to believe and adopt.
Even without other people affecting our self-belief we can all be very adept at altering, adjusting or editing our own stories and making them appear different to the actual real story of who we are.
We do this for a variety of reasons and sometimes without even realising what we are doing or why. Fear, lack of confidence, embarrassment and shame often lead us all to edit our version of events to create a scenario that appears to be more positive or acceptable to us and to others.
It is all too easy to tell ourselves and others a story that suits us rather than our real story, but in an age where we are surrounded by social media and can easily succumb to comparisonitis, it is so important for us to be honest when we tell our story.
It is especially important if we want to make changes in our lives and have the confidence to move forward with ease.
Storytelling and sharing enable us to capture moments in time, share wisdom, ask for advice and explore opportunities. Our own life story will be peppered with highs and lows, challenges and triumphs, joy and pain all of which will play their own important part in our story.
Storytelling is a vital part of our social history and enables us to preserve information and make it relevant to the part we are playing in the world today. That is why acknowledging and knowing our true story is so important. Being a storyteller enriches our lives. If we tell our own stories we can help and inspire others and entertain them of course! If we create a brilliant work of fiction or fantasy, we offer those who listen a glimpse into a different world that can divert them away from challenges and difficulties and open their minds to different possibilities.
So, what story will you be telling during National Storytelling Week? The true, raw story of your life that could have the power to transform someone else’s OR a brilliantly creative work of fiction that will entertain and enthral?
If you are telling your own story make it real, keep the passion and the energy and be authentic because you have the potential to create an important impact on someone else’s life. Share the knowledge and the pain, the ups and the downs because that is what makes your story – that is what makes you the best storyteller.
Sarah Adams is a journalist, university lecturer, coach and author of The Life Edit (published by Rethink Press)
She works in hard to reach communities teaching journalling and personal development to groups of vulnerable people and is the creator of the eight step Life Edit programme.
The Life Edit is available from Amazon
You can read more at www.sarahadams.me.uk and listen to a recent BBC radio interview here from about 35 minutes in