I would reckon most of us are aware that artists (be it musical, performing, visual or writing) are storytellers. But between tirelessly trying to create and making a living, we sometimes forget that storytelling has been a powerful tool for connection and healing for thousands of years:
It provides us with an opportunity to share our experiences and connect us through shared emotions and journeys. And I think this is something worth remembering when we are looking at a world that seemingly becomes more self-centred and less empathetic by the day:
By sharing our stories, we can foster a sense of empathy.
We understand and grow. By connecting with others, we create more opportunities to find support when needed. Ultimately, this sense of connection helps us feel seen and valued, which increases self-confidence and self-worth in the process.
Being able to give our thoughts and feelings shape through creative pursuits also helps us to cope with topics often left unspoken or uncomfortable to discuss.
At its core, storytelling is a practice of self-discovery.
As such, it helps us not only to connect with others, but ultimately with ourselves. That’s why it’s so important to understand the power of storytelling for our mental health. It can provide a safe outlet for expressing difficult emotions or helping process complicated life events. Writing or creating stories provides the structure within which difficult emotions can be explored – without getting overwhelmed by them. It can help bring clarity to confusing feelings and foster greater insight into our own experience:
Taking the time to reflect on our experiences through creative means gives us permission to slow down enough to step back and understand instead of merely reacting. It’s a wonderful creative exercise to become more of a mindful observer who notices patterns – both in ourselves and the world around us.
As storytellers, we can explore our thoughts and feelings through a narrative structure which can help to provide insight into difficult situations. Stories are powerful tools that give us the courage to move forward despite adversity. They provide us with an opportunity to process traumatic experiences in a way that feels less threatening than talking about them directly. Having the freedom to creatively reimagine situations as part of storytelling can offer us new perspectives and comfort during difficult times.
I’d love to hear of your own experiences around this topic. If you are a professional artists, do you sometimes feel that the aspect of connecting and healing has taken a backseat when you create? Or do you consciously create to heal?
© Petra Borzynski 2023
Two of my favorite story songs: “The Golden Willow Tree” by Aaron Copland https://youtu.be/zRSdnRatmr0; and “The Storyof Black Max” by Wm. Bolcom. https://youtu.be/-6Sf-GS8jAQ