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Why Storytelling Gives Us the Gift of Healing

Earlier this year, we explored the psychology of scars - how the narratives we tell ourselves and others about our scarring experiences ultimately determines the psychological effects the physical and experiential scars will have on our psyche and identities.

Storytelling exists as a practice of vulnerability. According to shame researcher, Dr Brené Brown, to be truly vulnerable requires us to understand shame as a loose concept, to be willing to get intimate with our shame and to be equipped with a certain level of resilience when it comes to shame or discourse around topics that make us uncomfortable.

By the nature of existing as humans, we ourselves exist as constantly evolving stories and storytellers in our own right. Forever creating, narrating, listening to, experiencing and engaging in our own stories and the stories of another. When it comes to the lands of Congenital Heart Defects (CHDs) and disease, the fields often present with crops of shame and confusion, all the while offering sights of plentiful hope. It is often the space and places eroded by shame that demand our attention and beg to be shared, or even just acknowledged as important within ourselves.

In shame-guru Dr Brené Brown’s talk on The Power of Vulnerability, shame is presented to reside in a petri-dish. When the conditions are stifling, namely, when our shame, or the stories about what we find uncomfortable, are sworn to secrecy they expand exponentially - engulfing our lives and our identities. The stories that keep us up at night now keep us from being present from the beauty of our wakeful hours.… Why was my baby born with a CHD, so keeping us from connecting? Why was I born with a defect and my siblings came in ‘unflawed’, serenading us with the false belief that we are alone? Why can I not make my child better; separate from a sense of belonging? What will they think of the scar on my chest?

As we begin to share what we feel is our shame; once we courageously commit to being vulnerable; to being seen; to releasing our shame from the dark dungeons of secrecy - through sharing, our stories of shame, our feelings of guilt, our fears bloom into beacons of hope and lights of inspiration. Our transformed perceptions, due to compassionate sharing, permit our stories to give us wings and the psychological effects our ’scars’ have on us slowly begin to release their hold on us as we awake to the realisation that shame is a universal human experience. An experience that spans multiple streams of life and one that never discriminates. Our untold stories of hardship and shame keep us separate when feared, and but connected when shared.

So long as your personal shame is acknowledged and your story received with compassion, love and an attentive ear, you cannot be alone. Give yourself permission to step into the fateful and healing role of storytelling, of sharing with others that which makes you uncomfortable. In doing so, you give others the opportunity to share their stories that hurt. In so doing you may well become a shining beacon of hope and light. This article is a follow on from an article posted in early January of this year, titled The Psychology of Scars. To read it, click here.


© Maboneng Heart and Lung Institute 2017 | Image: Eye for Ebony Sources:

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