Telling Your Story: Finding Wholeness & Meaning

By | May 7, 2014

Our memories from the past and the stories we tell are the threads that make up the tapestry of our lives and give our existence meaning. Millions of moments, all stitched together one thread at a time, form a large mosaic we call our life. Each person is weaving their own story, their own narrative. Each one of us has a story and most individuals want to tell that story.

When we share and reminisce of times past we help create a sense of personal and family identity. It also contributes to the establishment and continuation of values and beliefs. The retelling of our experiences can help us make sense of our lives and identify where we fit in the world.

Historical Perspectives

In ancient times the Egyptians wrote and told their stories on papyrus scrolls. More recently, Native Americans have etched their story in stone all about the landscapes of the Southwest.

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Today we share stories in a myriad of ways, both virtually and in person.

The nature of how we relate has and is changing and will remain ever evolving. Social media has had a monumental effect, the world over, in allowing people to tell their story. The average American spends thirty minutes per day on Facebook reading and posting. Sharing our lives is no longer bound by our local neighborhood but can and is broadcast instantaneously online.

Sharing Stories Builds Healthy Psychological Wellbeing

Many if not all people have a yearning desire to share with others. Stories often shared as memories can help knit a family’s sense of uniqueness and connect them to the greater community. Remembering your story and your unique past experiences helps in solidifying your own psychological health. Research indicates that when we are unable to make sense of our past and find meaning in where we are now, that we are more likely be depressed and anxious.

I’ve seen that most stable families communicate and talk with each other effectively. Talking doesn’t merely mean “talking through problems.” Talking and really communicating with your family means telling a positive story about yourselves and speaking transparently to one another about your life.  When faced with a challenge, healthy families, as well as individuals, simply add a new row of stitches in their life’s tapestry by relaying their experience showing them overcoming and working through the difficulty.

Not only does this sharing strengthen the fabric of the teller’s life, when done appropriately, it also richens the life of those listening. The listener can relate to the experience and will store it away for recall when they experience something similar. Sharing and listening to life stories also brings the individuals closer and more intimate, as it invites authenticity and trust in the relationship.

Children with healthy self-confidence have parents that have helped them understand where they fit in their family. These children also know the story of how their family came to be, what their family enjoys, and what the future has for their family. They come to know and understand themselves, building a narrative that strengthens their self-esteem and place in the world. This can happen when parents openly share and reminisce about pastimes and events that have happened in their lives.

There are many ways to create and convey this sense of history and story: holiday events, unique family traditions, vacations together, neighborhood activities, even a ride to grab a favorite treat. The more unique the tradition, the more likely it is bring meaning and value to their lives.

The bottom line: if you want a happier and more emotionally stable family, retell the story of your family’s positive memories in addition to highlighting your ability to recover from the difficult ones. This process of retelling and remembering can help your family thrive for generations to come.

Sharing Your Life Story

Begin by evaluating your own history of your own experiences within your relationships and family. If you have children, tell them about memories you have about them; open a photo album and share what comes to mind, it is through sharing that you bond with other family members.

Often our stories, the compilation of our experiences, is influenced by traditions we grew up with or are still living, such as unique and frequent enjoyable activities that happen in some predictable manner. Tradition creates a framework of predictability which results in comfort and safety. These traditions can begin at any stage of your family life.  These events serve many purposes and when understood more clearly can enhance, solidify and safeguard your relationships and overall emotional health.

Seize today and share your experiences, your memories, and your past. Enjoy your journey, for you are the author of the next chapter in your life story.

Copyright: No part of this article in section or full may be reproduced without permission from the author Justin Stum, MS LMFT. The one and only exception is for educational purposes and only if the contact information below for the author is fully cited here in article. Justin Stum, MS LMFT, 640 E. 700 S. Suite 103, St. George Utah 84770, 435-574-9193


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