The Power of Stories

When I was in my early 30s, I had a breakdown. I’ve told the story of me kicking and screaming, internally, onto the airplane. I understood this was not “normal,” so I went to a therapist and was diagnosed with PTSD. Therapy helped but my anxiety insisted I find a job I could do from home. I’ll be a writer and tell stories. While I don’t make a living at storytelling (not yet), it has allowed me to heal.

“We are, as a species, addicted to story. Even when the body goes to sleep, the mind stays up all night, telling itself stories.” Jonathan Gottschall

Because my dissertation focused on storytelling leadership, I researched the history of why stories are so important to us. What I discovered was that storytelling is what makes us human. The closest animals related to us are chimpanzees; they share 99% of our DNA. Yet, they communicate using hand gestures, body posture, and facial expressions (power of nonverbal communication for us) and different noises.

At first, humans developed language for survival. “Bob, run. There’s a T Rex chasing me.” Now stories are the most important way to connect.

How does writing heal?

That day I decided to become a homebound writer, I found an ad about The Writing Center. I drove down there the next week for Thursday Night Writers Group. I was greeted by Judy Reeves, the Director of the Center. I smiled. Judy had been my parents’ friend from the partying Pacific Beach days. Serendipity. For five dollars, Judy would give the small group a prompt, we’d write for 15 to 18 minutes, and then share what we wrote, if we wanted to.

Those Thursday Nights saved my life. I’d been busy all my life doing, caring, getting good grades, marrying, having babies, and climbing the academic ladder that I’d pushed down all the shit and trauma from my childhood. Every word I wrote on the page was one step closer to healing. I began to forgive my pops and love myself.

Take Action

Get a book of writing prompts, journaling and/or doing morning pages are ways to write.

Five minutes of uninterrupted and unedited writing (pen to paper is best) is all you need.