Books, TedTalks, courses, YouTube videos, blogs and endless interviews, all on the art of storytelling. It seems that we are hard-wired to share and tell stories. Storytelling is sacred in many cultures as a means to pass along rituals and values. Stories are a bridge of connection with others and loved ones. Parents tell bedtime stories to their children before kissing them good night. Belly laughs echo out from a dinner table surrounded by friends and family sharing story. Some of the most memorable come in the form of sudden fright aside a campfire after dark. A custom that serves as story for the future.
We use stories to motivate others and ourselves. The power of story can be a great catalyst for change and transformation, especially personal stories. They hit deep into our pleasure center and emotional hub to get us cheering for the kid we may not have been so nice to in high school. We scream for the victory of the underdog and celebrate their triumphs. We get chills down our spine, goosebumps on our arms and dilation in our eyes so that we can take in more. A good story is engaging and can make us weep like a baby, rise up to a challenge and restore our faith in mankind. Story is a lifeline that plugs us into one another.
I have a list of people a mile long who I have listened to with dilated eyes and an open heart because they were brave enough to share their story. Monica Lewinsky on shame, Brene Brown on vulnerability, Mishka Shubaly on addiction and the countless voices that are brought into my awareness every week through podcasts like Running On Om and The Rich Roll Podcast. All of them sharing story as a result of a life changing moment, experience or inspiration received, sometimes from a story they were told.
I’m sure all of these people whose stories I’ve connected with would freely admit they are still a work in process, as am I, because there is no finish line or stasis in life. At any time we are either growing or dying, progressing or regressing. The common thread that I find within each of these stories is that in order for the storyteller to attain the higher expression they are living today, pieces of their story had to be dropped.
In a world of labels, levels, diagnosis and test results, it is easy to construct personal identity via a list resembling that for the grocery store rather than through the ever changing and fluid experience of life. The plague of our physical existence is the ego that drools for identity and the need to be seen as a separate autonomous being. It is this drive to attach to the particulars of character that put us at risk for identity paralysis and hard line living. This is a place without hope for growth. Dropping pieces of our story, no matter how painful, scary or minor, are necessary implements for expansion in life. Without this willingness, the world in front of us begins to shrink.
Our stories are important and they got us to where we are today but they are not who we are, and getting too attached to them is life restricting. Adopting an open forum thought process where each moment is seen as an opportunity to begin again will liberate all who are caged within self imposed borders. And with this will come an understanding that life is fluid and nonrestrictive.
Every breath, experience and moment in life is there to bring us forward in our process. Be curious when you find yourself locked into a cell of past experience and restricted by a hard line of thought. Look at all the pieces, not just the big stuff and allow for pause in the moment of now to shine light on your blind spots. This is necessary to find areas of paralysis and opportunities for expansion. Surrender into each moment as a way to see the truth of now. This will open you to living your highest expression and create a lifeline for others to do the same.