As a therapist, I am often the receiver of stories. And if you’re like me (and many of my clients), we can tell stories of others, but when asked about our own story we fumble, leave out details, or change the subject. What is it about telling our story that makes us sweat?
We aren’t well practiced: Learning to tell your story isn’t just about remembering details of your life and having a nuance of drawing people in. It isn’t about learning the right verbiage or lingo to describe psychological and emotional experiences. For a lot of us, we haven’t sat down and put our stories on a timeline all together. We haven’t practiced noticing patterns from day 1 of our existence until now. And we haven’t practiced fumbling through vocalizing that to other people. We simply haven’t worked that muscle yet.
We feel a sense of shame: Beyond practicing language, telling your story is about intentionally putting down walls that shame tells us are needed for protection. It’s about bringing others into your pain, victories, worries, doubts, joys, and fears. It’s about doing so without a veil of performance, but instead of vulnerability. It’s about fighting against our instinct of self protection to lean into another innate instinct of connection. One gives the perception of safety while the other actually gives safety.
Our people don’t know how to receive it well: The unfortunate reality for a lot of us is that we’ve tried. We’ve tried to communicate our stories to people and it has gone poorly. Either we’ve thought the person was trustworthy and then ended up breaking our trust, or the people we’ve brought our story to weren’t ready/didn’t know how to receive it themselves. So, if you’re craving connection with others, take an honest look at yourself. Are you a person who creates safety for others? Are you a listener, advice giver, or try to be a fixer? Taking time to be the very thing you need allows you to create spaces for connection.
Do the work with a therapist my friends because in an increasingly isolated world, it is essential for our survival.