The Power of Storytelling for Personal Development

Today I’d like to talk a little bit about the power of storytelling, not the power of storytelling, in the sense of selling yourself, or in the sense of selling products or services which tends to be the main thing that we talk about in storytelling these days, or even in terms of convincing people of your idea or whatever else I do teach all of that but I don’t want to talk about that right now.

I want to talk about storytelling, in terms of the importance in defining your narrative and owning your voice. So these sound like really big things. But essentially, we’re all doing them anyway. We have a narrative, we have a narrative of the past we have a narrative that we’re telling ourselves at the present, and we have a narrative going forward. And as much as we would all like to stay in the present as we’re all being told that we should do. We spend a lot of time looking backwards, or using what we’ve learned from our past to influence our future or our present.

So, storytelling here is about the story that we tell ourselves. And one of the things that I work a lot with my clients on is defining those important stories in their life till now that are influencing the way they are now, and influencing what they want for the future. So that’s kind of something that Simon Sinek talks about in finding your why, really thinking about those key moments in your life where you were in a state of flow or you felt amazing about something, by the way you can do it with the negative moments as well where you felt that you were really really present, and it was a very negative moment you can work on that as well. We tend to do both. It’s obviously more pleasant to be working on the positive ones. But in, facing the negative ones we always managed to pull out information which is very interesting and very important to go forward.

So, how do I work with this essentially what I do is have my clients tell me this these stories, and this is not just sort of oh yeah there was a time and I was doing this we use storytelling techniques for this we paint the picture, we use description we use interior dialogue, we try to examine as closely as possible, have them to reflect it as closely as possible, as how they remember it, obviously we could have a whole other discussion on whether memory is accurate, and all the rest of it. However, we’re not particularly interested in whether these stories are perfectly accurate. They are the narrative that you’ve told yourself about this memory, and that has influenced who you are. So we work with stories from the past.

We also work with stories from the present, and this is things that you are telling yourself about yourself, what type of person am I your characterization, so if at the beginning of a story you think about how the author or the designer or whoever is setting up this character or the different characters. This is how you’re setting yourself up at the moment in as you walk into the different scenes of your life. So as you walk into these different scenes. What are you telling yourself about your character, and what are you telling yourself about the other characters that you are meeting along the way. And so we work through that, often using some drama techniques, and to really think about how these interactions are working and what this interior dialogue is.

And then we work towards the future. So thinking about where you are now and what you want your narrative to be. Now this is also known as story making. So, thinking about how am I going to write my story from here. Let’s, own it let’s control it. Let’s not think, I don’t have any influence or leave it to fate. You do have an influence and every day you have a chance to change that story. Every day you make choices that influence, where you are going to get to on that story. So helping clients to define what they want their story to be as clearly and as authentically as possible through different storytelling techniques.

In this case, storytelling, In the future, this is more fantasy. This is not what has happened it’s not based on reality it’s based on what they would like to do in the future, and we use lots of different techniques here including art therapy techniques where you are actually painting the scenes from the future or acting them out, or writing them as well just really thinking about visualising this as closely as possible, and then taking the action steps to make it we’re not living in some fairy land where we just come up with the idea we’ve got this amazing story. This fiction about ourselves and then we don’t know how to go and do it, we nail down the actions afterwards.

So this is how I’m using storytelling not in the sense of telling a story to sell something to promote yourself to, to kind of impress people on social media, although all of that is a next stage of storytelling is really understanding yourself through storytelling about yourself, and I’d really encourage you to do this. And it’s something that you can do on your own, just think about it, what are the stories from my past that I’m telling myself, what are the stories that I tell myself right now about myself, about other people. And what are the stories I would like to happen in the future. So with that, I’ll leave you to it.

Blog Photo by Drew Graham on Unsplash

About Katie Annice Carr

Creativity, Communication and Leadership facilitator, coach and consultant.