How Telling Our Stories Actually Helps Us Heal.

How Telling Our Stories Actually Helps Us Heal.

‘Tell me the story.” 

These are the words that are often falling out of my mouth as my crying 4 year old searches me out in what ever hiding spot I happen to be in around our house.

There is usually some woeful tale of how one of her older siblings offended her in some way.  Easily solved with a snuggle and an apology from the offending party.

Both the story telling and the snuggle are necessary parts of helping her heal from her trauma of the moment.  They connect the two hemispheres of the brain so that big emotions and feeling are soothed and logic and reasoning can make sense of the situation.

The human brain fascinates me. (Not in like a zombie way I promise). I’m especially interested in the power of our personal think tank, when it comes to how we can program it in relation to habits and healing.  It’s totally incredible  that we have the ability to change the way we behave and feel by exercising our grey matter in different ways.

Currently I am reading The Whole-Brain ChildThe Whole-Brain Child by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson. I picked up this book with the hope that it would give me insight into the way my 4 year old thinks and some ways to help her manage her very big emotions.

The book talks about integrating both hemispheres of the brain so that logic and feelings can come into play when we are sorting out issues with with our kiddos. (Who am I kidding really, I’m totally trying to remedy my own issues with some of the tools I’m reading about as well).

One piece of advice that has grabbed my attention so far has to do with helping your child (or you) deal with an upsetting event.

Help them tell the story of what happened and help them tell it as many times as they need to.  This creates a merge between the two halves of the brain so that healing can occur.  Telling the story brings up the emotions and feelings that the right brain is responsible for and it also adds in the logic, linear thinking and linguistics of the left brain.  All of this helps to make sense of the event and alleviate fears associated with the original mishap.

This reminds me of the more adult version of the theory from Anne Lamott as told by Brene’ Brown in her book Rising Strong.

When you are trying to get over a bad experience write out a “Shitty First Draft” (or SFD for short). Brene’ says this is how she starts to rumble with a situation.

Write out every detail and feeling as you remember it. Don’t worry about whether or not you sound like a total jerk because you’re never going to show your SFD to another living soul.

Once the whole ugly saga is out of your head (either on paper or if you are a kid told to your mommy) you can wrestle with it more easily.

Will the wrestling hurt?

It can, but the idea is that it won’t hurt forever.

Just as a rock is polished in a tumbler  by banging against other rocks and being rubbed by grit, only to emerge weeks later smooth and beautiful, our less than wonderful life experiences can become the things that heal us if we give voice to them.

We can write them over and over again until they stop stinging.  If we can put story in chronological order  we are better able to have it make sense as well as deal reasonably with our emotions.  Our left brain and our right brain working together to heal our hurts.

It’s possible we will be able to see things from another person’s point of view if there is another person involved in the SFD.  (There almost always is another person isn’t there).

I can even encourage my bigger kids to write out or draw their SFD (probably under a different title) if they don’t feel like they can talk about it.

Learning all of this excites me.  It tells me that telling our stories actually works on a brain and body level as well as an emotional/ feelings level.

Do you find the brain fascinating?  Do you have practice with getting your SFD out and finding healing in that?  Leave me a comment with your thoughts and advice. 

photo credit: Journal via photopin (license)

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  • Great(est) Aunt Kathy says:

    This is really interesting, and I think “telling the story” can do wonders for healing a hurt. In order to “get over” something, it’s often better to work through it than to avoid it.

  • Jess says:

    I’ve definitely done SFDs. They go so far in helping me dump things out of my brain. Sometimes, there are significant details that need to be remembered and perhaps recalled later. But by doing an SFD, I don’t have to invest the brain power into remembering. I can let it pass by my mind.

    And a double-thumbs-up to writing or drawing out SFDs for kids. We’ve worked with this in our house to deal with All. The. Emotions. too. (And getting a cool new notebook and pens for the purpose didn’t hurt, too.) 🙂

  • Kari says:

    Writing it out is good, but for me, I often need to find a safe person to just process out loud with. And generally, they don’t need to say anything, because at some point, I’ll hear myself say that one particular thing that’s standing in the way of my emotional freedom. Great post. I need to read that book.

  • Corrina Knoll says:

    Great post! I think that as women (generally) we often seek out a good friend who we feel safe with and ‘speak” our SFD. I find that if I talk through something I can process it quicker and I have those “aha” moments easier! Also, another perspective is always welcome. I wonder how men deal with these things?…I can’t see my hubby journaling his SFD….LOL! I guess that’s where “stuffing” comes in. Lots of things to ponder!

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