The Power of Storytelling: Why Stories Matter

stories and compassion

The power of storytelling, as regular readers know, is a theme I return to again and again on this blog. I am passionate about the ability of stories to create a shared sense of meaning and community in our lives. I see this played out in the blogosphere each week, as I weave the strands of our stories together in the Weekly Round Up.

Cancer takes so much from us, not just our breasts and our hair, but indeed the very story of how our lives were meant to be. When we become ill and that story that has previously guided our lives is taken from us, we need to find a new story.  Stories help bridge what sociologist, Arthur Frank, in his  book The Wounded Storyteller,  calls “narrative wreckage” – the point at which our old life plot is no longer valid, and we need a new story to continue life’s journey. Frank believes that seriously ill people are wounded not just in body but in voice and that we need to become storytellers in order to recover the voices that illness takes away.

I firmly believe that there is an alchemy that happens in the blogosphere when we share our stories. When your story is received and witnessed by others, the stories themselves change as they are told and heard, creating a social fabric around which we care for each other. Through sharing stories, we create empathic bonds between ourselves and our listeners. Those who listen to our stories, tell others, and in this way the circle of shared experience widens. This is the reason I continue to blog – even now when so many years have gone by since my own breast experience. It’s at the heart of why the Weekly Round Up means so much to me because we connect on this deep level of stories and our shared humanity.

On Thursday, I will have the great pleasure of working with Audrey Birt, to deliver a storytelling workshop on behalf of the Health and Social Care Academy, in Edinburgh, Scotland. It’s been well over a decade since I last visited Edinburgh and I am looking forward to going back there.

Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh, Scotland

I am also excited to be working with Audrey, whom I first encountered through her blog a few years ago. It will be our first time meeting in person. And of course, I am very much looking forward to travelling some storytelling ground with the workshop participants.  If you happen to be in Edinburgh, why not join us for this free workshop. Full details are here.

Looking forward to seeing you there!