Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Storytelling: the stories we don't tell

I am slightly wary of the storytelling wave that has taken over these days. I worry about appropriation - the question of whose stories we tell and whether they are ours to tell looms large for me and oddly doesn't pop up that often in the workshops I've been in on the topic unless somebody asks. But, one thing I'd not given a lot of thought to was the stories that we don't tell - particularly the ones that we do or don't tell about ourselves.

At a recent retreat, I really got this on a more embodied level. As an exercise, we were split up into small groups and asked to go through a set of questions together - the first being about how we got onto the path we are on. In retrospect, it is easy to see why I chose to tell my story the way I did - the professionally safe, sanitized version that left out most of the mess of it, left out everything deemed inappropriate by an inner judge of what was safe to share in that context.

What happened next was really interesting - we reconvened in a larger group and while a lot of people expressed gratitude for being able to share their stories, there was also a clear energy in the room that not everybody had felt like they were free to express themselves, not everybody felt safe. There are lots of reasons for this, but part of it truly just is that some of are more comfortable with our stories, some have more comfortable stories to tell, sometimes the context just does or doesn't "work".

Ultimately, a group of us interested in what we weren't saying got together and tried the exercise again and it was day and night in terms of the stories that emerged from really focusing on what we hadn't wanted to say. It wasn't universally comforting or cathartic, it raised even more questions in fact. But now I do find myself at least being more aware of the stories I choose to tell.... or not.

No comments:

Post a Comment