Storytelling: Seeing With Our Mind's Eye and Finding Our Way with Words

Storytelling: Seeing With Our Mind's Eye and Finding Our Way with Words

I am no psychologist, neurologist, scientist or academic of any kind or calibre, but what I have learned in nearly twenty years of meditation, is that imagination is what happens when we let our minds relax, and open to nothing. It is the opposite of striving for an answer or forcing a solution, and more about allowing the mind to coalesce images out of clouds of swirling nothing and everything.

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Lock Safe Memories, Storytelling Key

Lock Safe Memories, Storytelling Key

The second way we are called to draw on emotional courage in storytelling is in the double step act of facing our experiences, again, all the emotions that came with them at the time, processing them so we can then share them, making sense of them so we can bring an audience to a place of peace, hope or resolution around them.  This is huge. This is the work of a lifetime. 

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The Story Road is Paved With Courage

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Emotional courage in personal storytelling is almost a tautology because the word courage is derived from the latin word ‘heart’ and it originally meant "To speak one's mind by telling all one's heart." - A particularly apt description for personal storytelling.

Emotional courage may also be described in modern parlance by referring to the word vulnerability, made specific by the work of Brene Brown. In her work she argues that we cannot have courage without vulnerability. She defines vulnerability as any situation where we face uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure.

Vulnerability and therefore courage are required in storytelling in two ways, and this post is about the first and more obvious way.

The very act of standing and telling a story, any story, is an act requiring courage, exposing us to vulnerability, because we don’t know how it’s is going to go, how well we’ll do, how the listeners will respond - it is an uncertainty. There is a risk that we will fail and fail publicly, there is also a risk that we will be judged negatively, that others will not accept us and how we have told the story.

And if we are nervous, which we often are, there is added risk: we are dancing along the knife edge of our fear being seen - sweating, shaking, freezing, going blank; the fear of the fear changing how we reveal ourselves - we might come across as arrogant, or wooden and dull, because we are stiff with this fear, and this fear is undermining our confidence, and in the ultimate viscous cycle the fear of failure feeds our inner critic which can make failure more likely. All of this is why public speaking is sometimes rated worse than dying as a fear.

So we need to draw on our emotional fortitude in any of the multitude of ways available, and take heart that the more we do it the easier it gets, that the road is paved with many who have felt and faced the same terror and they have not only lived but grown from the experience.

The Journey of the Storyteller

The Journey of the Storyteller

In order to begin the journey of becoming a storyteller, it helps to understand and gather to the front of your mind the qualities that will enable you to learn, practise, grow and perform from deep within your heart, with a strong and clear voice. These keys will enable you to play the story like the strings of a guitar, feeling into the heart, challenging the mind and landing with deep satisfaction the gift of story. 

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