The healing power of stories

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There’s a hidden power that comes with stories being shared with one another.

The power to promote healing. Stories are an escape from the present reality, whatever that may be, for both the listener and the storyteller. Whether you listen to or read a story, or share a story with someone, it is equally therapeutic.

Have you ever been so engrossed in a story that you felt you were actually the one who was having the experience? Having a story cause you to tear up, either out of sadness or joy, may not sound like an ideal escape from reality. But, at that moment, the reader or listener may have needed to experience what the story was pulling them into. That emotional break from reality can be incredibly therapeutic to the mind and soul.

…What happens is of little significance compared with the stories we tell ourselves about what happens. Events matter little, only stories of events affect us.”

  ― Rabih Alameddine, The Hakawati

Hearing someone else’s story where they persevered and survived a certain situation can also be uplifting and motivational. This can be especially true for someone who is also in the thick of a similar situation and is having trouble seeing the light at the end of the dark tunnel that they are facing. It can make a world of difference to hear someone tell you “I’ve felt that way too, but here I am today. I made it through that chapter of my life and am all the better for it.  You’ll make it through this difficult chapter as well. Let me tell you my story.”

Telling your own story of a difficult time that you have gone through and coming out the other side of can also be healing from the storyteller’s point of view. If you’ve ever spent even 10 minutes in the presence of someone who is elderly, you will quickly find out that they very much enjoy telling you stories of their life experiences from their many decades on Earth. Telling their stories is healing for them, as they are very aware of their age and how little time they may have left. Telling their stories allows them to connect with the person who is listening and, in a way, relive those meaningful moments of their lives.

People take on the shapes of the songs and the stories that surround them, especially if they don’t have their own song.”

  ― Neil Gaiman, Anansi Boys

The healing power of stories goes far beyond just giving hope to the lost and broken souls or revitalizing the tired and weary. Storytelling creates a human connection that, in itself, is a therapeutic experience that may not be felt immediately but can be tapped into at a later time just by thinking about the experience of the story sometimes.