This weekend I had a delightful time at the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival. I listened to many of the 12 professional storytellers work their magic to transport me to Gettysburg or Half Dollar, West Virginia. Some stories made me laugh and some made me cry. Some were so funny they squeezed tears right out of my eyes and caused my sides to ache for hours afterward. I love it.
My time at the Storytelling Festival has caused me to think about the power of stories in our lives. Jesus taught in stories—we call them parables. We warn and admonish each other by relating our own experiences in the form of stories. And we read the stories of people we admire and learn from them. Stories are powerful. Stories our parents told us about their lives, shape our lives.
But the most powerful stories of all are the stories we tell ourselves. Why? Because we believe them. Whenever something happens to us we begin to shape the meaning of the event by telling ourselves a story. The emotions we experience and the attitudes we carry into the future about that event are determined by our story—a story we write. We trip and fall and we can explain it with a funny story about how clumsy we are or we can make it dire with tales of someone else’s incompetence that caused the accident or even make ourselves out to be the victim of someone’s malicious actions. The positive story allows us to move on. The negative story holds us captive in the Pit of Illusion and makes us miserable for as long as we tell the story to ourselves and others.
We are all storytellers and the stories we tell can empower us or they can exhaust us. Realizing we have a choice in this matter helps us to choose stories that will facilitate goodness in our lives instead of letting negative stories ruin our lives.