As a therapist, I have experience helping people with their stories. Sometimes, my work involves helping people change the story they've been telling themselves.
While the facts don't change, their entire view on life could shift by gaining new perspective. For example, someone who has seen themselves as a victim their whole lives might benefit from changing the story to reflect the fact that they're a survivor.
Viewing their emotional scars as proof they are strong, rather than evidence they got hurt, could empower them to create a different future.
I've also helped a lot of people share their stories with others. One client wanted to know how to find the right words to reveal to her partner that she had a history of abuse. She needed emotional support.
Another person wanted to help other people who were experiencing mental illness and substance abuse. He knew his personal story needed to be told but he wasn't sure how to tell it.
Sharing your truth doesn't always have to be about revealing a past hurt, dark secret, or inspirational story. It might also be about sharing your why.
You might want to tell your customers why you started your business in the first place. Or maybe you decide to tell all of your employees about that person you met who taught you a life lesson that became your personal motto.
Sharing those types of stories requires you to be vulnerable and brave too.
No matter what your story is, here are seven tips for telling it:
- Write it down. Even though it's your story and there's technically no "wrong way to tell it," it's important to put it down on paper (or on your computer screen). This will help you sort things out and make better sense of everything. Don't worry about where to start or how to end it for now. Just get it out there.
- Read it aloud. Hearing your story will evoke different emotions. It can also help you decide where to make cuts and where to add more information. So try reading it to yourself a few times.
- Edit as needed. Don't get too caught up in specific details--like what day of the week it was or what color shoes you wore. You want to share enough information that your message makes sense without overwhelming anyone with details.
- Prepare yourself for the response. Not everyone will be kind when they hear your story. But perhaps even worse, some people might not have any response at all. Others might share deeply personal information back with you. Make sure you're emotionally prepared for whatever type of response you might get.
- Start with a small audience. Depending on your goal, you might decide to start by sharing your story with a friend, mentor, or family member. Look at it as an opportunity to practice sharing as well as a chance to get some feedback. While feedback isn't easy to hear, remember it's the best way to improve.
- Decide who you want to share it with. You don't have to share your story on a blog or in a TEDx talk with the whole world. You might decide you're only going to share with a select group. Think carefully about your purpose in sharing your message and keep control of how and when it gets shared.
- Share it. It will likely feel scary to share your story but doing so could be quite impactful. Don't wait until the fear goes away (that might never happen). Instead, take a deep breath and own your narrative.
Stories Change People
People will often forget the statistics, research studies, and opinions you share. But the stories you tell might resonate with them forever.
So even though it can be painful and uncomfortable to share your story, own your truth. Not only might it help you, there's a good chance you might help a lot of other people too.