I was recently ask to talk about why story is important to me to a group of Psych PhD candidates. I normally talk to actors about how a one person show is one of the most empowering things you can do as a creative artist, how it can boost your self-esteem, increase your visibility, set you apart in the industry, and offers lots of unexpected opportunities for personal growth.
I couldn’t expect Psy.D. candidates to relate to the challenges of booking a satisfying role that offers artistic gratification and a pay check.
Stripped of my usual audience, I was forced to get to the heart of the matter. Beyond the show, applause, recognition and sense of accomplishment – what was true for me about storytelling?
It would be like Barbara Walters asking Angelina: “Putting his hotness, money, power & fame aside, what makes you love Bwad?”
Beyond the show, applause, recognition and sense of accomplishment – what was true for me about storytelling?
Here’s a section of my presentation:
I had always thought of stories as a form of entertainment. Telling my friends stories over dinner about the crazy things my mother had done or said to me, my friends would laugh when I imitated her. I thought the payoff was hearing their laughter.
What I realize now, is that sharing my stories, helped me process the pain of a difficult relationship with my mother. My friends’ reactions helped me reframe my position from victim to hapless, yet lovable daughter.
I’ve written & performed monologues about growing up Seventh Day Adventist, and almost joining a cult – twice before becoming a Self-Help junkie.
I’ve written about pretending I wasn’t Puerto Rican when my family moved into an Irish & Italian neighborhood.
I figured my stories would be interesting, but not very relatable – until a Jewish woman, and later an Asian man, thanked me for writing about ethnic shame. Coincidence? Maybe, but after one performance, a young man pull me aside for advice on how to disentangle himself from the very same cult I had been involved with.
I figured my stories would be interesting, but not relatable – until a Jewish woman, and an Asian man, thanked me for writing about ethnic shame.
I’ve lead a couple of workshops for a women’s organization called That Takes Ovaries. Women & girls share acts of bravery. The act could be anything from an American wearing a tank top when she has less than perfect arms, to driving out a potential rapist from a brothel in India.
The workshop has women & girls stand and share stories of their own acts of bravery – whatever that means to them – for just 3 minutes. The organization’s slogan is Courage is Contagious and I understand why. I could feel the energy in the room shift from reluctant speakers to women who couldn’t wait to share a second story about a time in their lives when they were bold.
The women left the workshop feeling that anything was possible,…”If she can do that, then I can to” and “If I was brave once, I can be brave again.”
The women left the workshop feeling that anything was possible, not because Oprah or Tony Robbins said so, but because they thought “If she can do that, then I can to.” and “If I was brave once, I can be brave again.”
I love story because it’s a powerful tool that can teach, heal, empower, connect, motivate and persuade others, and more importantly ourselves.
Someone who has thoroughly researched and studied the power of telling our stories is Brene Brown. I’m including her TED talk that went viral a few years ago. I sometimes watch it just before a writing session or when I’m feeling like “Who cares about what I have to say?” I hope you enjoy it.
Let me know what you think of the video or why you love telling stories on the Facebook page.
Brene Brown Ted Talk.