The Five Bennefits of StoryWork
StoryWork is a term that I use to describe the eclectic work that I do with people, communities and organisations. To be honest, It's quite a broad categorization. StoryWork can range from simple storytelling projects to more complex problem solving and evaluation processes. The common denominator in all is the use of conversation, reflection and storytelling and to tell those stories in creative ways.
One thing that is clear is that by using reflective personal stories I am able to help people, communities and organisations achieve several positive outcomes.
Improve empathy & compassion
Improve community & organisational cohesion
Improve organisational & community Health
Improve personal well-being & mental health
Improve identity, self esteem & self value
A Brief History of Stories
Since the dawn of time stories have featured as an essential ingredient for the survival of our species. From the earliest cave paintings communicating hunting grounds onward throughout history to share information, pay respects to others, to pass information forward from the past. Stories are still used today to teach our children through metaphor and fairy tales fundamental lessons in safety, morality and life. Storywork can change behavior.
As history moved forward the Psychoanalysts of the early to mid-twentieth century spearheaded the importance of both sharing our story but also using our story through reflection to discover our neurosis, our fears, our barriers and then to change our future outcomes by rewriting our story as one of a position of strength. In essence to look back to the past in order to know how we got here and to make conscious choices for the future, hence therapy was born.
My history with Stories
I have a long history with stories at times they have saved my life, kept me mentally well or returned me to a place of sanity. The stories I was in love with as a child have influenced my passions and desires of today and those to come tomorrow. My passion for travel, my wanderlust can be traced right back to my deep love of TinTin books as a kid. Yes, stories are powerful.
I really became a witness to the power that storytelling has during my professional days working as a therapist. I witnessed people turn their lives around from the ledge of insanity to one of positivity, movement and hope. They did this through first telling their story as it stood that day, we then went on a history trip to see how they ended up here feeling this way and from there made choices and took actions to rewrite the story to come tomorrow.
You see we operate unconsciously most of the time, we are reactors to external and sometimes internal stimuli. The whole human species does it.. The story that drives these unconscious actions is not really our story it is more a collection of other peoples stories, stories that we are told are our own. We are the product of our parents words, their fears, their doubts, their beliefs, societies rules, educations labels. Wouldn’t it be a beautiful thing to finally have a story that is purely yours one that you are proud to own?
How I use Stories in Personal & Community work
Stories are central to most of my work. I help people to tell their stories I help them see a less distorted version of their story. Ok, let me explain a little more. Many people do not have a healthy view of their present story or at best it's a little broken here and there. That is quite understandable many people experience suffering. For some that suffering feels eternally endless, hopeless.
Trauma sucks in many ways. However, how we respond and react then act on our traumas, our pressures, our stressors are partly and mostly as a result of how we have or have not been taught to deal with these things. We are the products of other peoples history, of their story.
I often hold storytelling sessions were people drop into space and we share stories as friends would do, we laugh, we learn we grow. In essence, you could say my story work is a bit like one big open group therapy session and it is in part but only in part. I often build things out of peoples stories. People are a rich human library of resources, inspiration, ideas and stories. There are a thousand books in each of us waiting to be wrote.
Together with communities, we build things helpful, inspiring, informative things, These things are often films,, books, zines, magazines, newspapers but can and also often project too. People often get well and stay well through both the telling and sharing of the story combined with having a purpose greater than themselves.
A few years ago I worked with a group of older adults widowed and living in grief. Together we told our stories, shared memories, laughed, cried and eventually moved closer to accepting this loss, we turned these stories into a little book a book about letting go and learning to love past grief, a book to be passed back along their Journey to others who will come this way. It was quite a beautiful experience really.
If you would like to know a bit more about StoryWork as a Personal & Community Tool please follow this link. GoTo StoryWork (Community)
“There are a thousand books in each of us waiting to be wrote.”
How I use Stories in Professional & Organisational Work
I see Organisations, Systems, Towns, Cities like I see people or more relevant to how I see families. They operate the same, have issues in the same way and can be helped in the same way that people and families are helped through story work.
Some of the things I do with Organisations is to help them tell their real and authentic story. This may be as simple as putting their already reflected and collected stories together and making something out of those or it may be a full package where I build a project that sets out to find and collect their community of interests story as well.