How To Heal Through Storytelling & Self-expression
Looking for an authentic, self-guided path to healing? Learn how to heal through storytelling and self-expression with these 6 steps.
For most of us, our first reaction to trauma and pain is to keep it all inside. Don’t talk about it. Don’t think about it. Definitely don’t tell other people about it. In fact, when you’re carrying trauma, it seems easiest and safest to simply pretend it never happened.
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Deny. Deny. Deny.
Why? Because we feel like, if we face it, it might kill us.
So we spend decades running from the truth, numbing the pain and burying the trauma in the deepest corners of our souls.
Until one day, the pain rears its ugly head and starts to dismantle all the things you once loved about your life.
You can no longer hide from it any longer, and you realize, if you want to get rid of it – you have to face it.
So what’s the easiest way to do that?
How do you face your worst fears in an empowering way?
How do you approach your healing journey in a way that doesn’t make you want to run away and hide?
Why Storytelling Heals Trauma
There were a few things I did along my healing journey that honestly saved my life – and telling my story was at the center of it all for me. Whether I share my story aloud or privately on paper, I learn something new every time.
You see, sharing your story enables you to give it new meaning each time you tell it. The experience shifts from a one-time event that’s burned into your body and mind … to a living part of you that can be transformed with each re-telling. If you tell yourself and others that the worst day of your life eventually changed your life and brought you purpose, then you’re reframing its meaning in your own life, too.
“When we write our stories, we stop feeling confused about the events in our lives and thus begin to access the wisdom we might have lost when we disassociated ourselves from traumatic emotions or insights,” says author and clinical psychologist Carl Greer.
By connecting the dots of our own narratives, we’re creating the opportunity to rewrite them entirely – to find some sort of positive meaning in the worst moments of our lives.
And when we do that, we can finally begin to move on.
6 Steps To Heal Your Trauma Through Storytelling
So now you may be wondering how to approach this grand storytelling adventure. Do you have to speak on stages to millions of people like me? Absolutely not. Can you? Yes. But there are plenty of options, and the healing begins when you choose the right option for you. So let’s dive in.
1. I took control of my narrative.
First, I decided I didn’t want other people telling my story for me anymore. And I didn’t want to be ashamed of speaking it myself. I realized that, if I were silent about my own life, other people would fill up that silence with their own version of my story – and that was simply not ok. It was time to take control of my experience, to accept it and learn from it. For me, that looked like being brave and having those difficult conversations I was avoiding.
2. I re-examined my support system.
I applied this lesson two ways in my life. On the outside, I limited myself from people who were toxic and stepped away from several relationships where I was too often the subject of gossip. Instead, I focused on what I could control: my mindset. I got clear on my internal support system. How was I supporting myself? What was I missing? By answering those questions, I changed my daily routine – adding affirmations, inspirational content and gratitude. With a powerful internal and external support system, I felt more confident when it came to using my voice.
3. I committed to my healing.
Once I started making those foundational changes, I reached a point in my journey where I distinctly remember making the conscious choice to look deeper. It was time to understand how the pain I was feeling in that moment was connected to the pain I felt for a lifetime – because that pain was still writing my story for me.
You see, I was still very hurt and upset from the difficult circumstances of my childhood, and all that pain was wrapped up in my everyday frustrations. I never felt heard, respected, acknowledged or cared for, so I didn’t know how to be those things for myself. That was my current story.
If I wanted to take control, I needed to understand how my past was still affecting my present. Only then could I write a new future.
4. I held onto hope.
Hope is the first step in emerging from the pain and trauma of your past, and it was a gift I received when I read a letter from a stranger who had walked a similar path as me. She said I would be ok again, as long as I chose to believe it was true.
Those words assured me I could be more than my circumstances. They told me I was capable and worthy of overcoming the pain. It was that glimmer of hope that reminded me I deserved to write a better future. After that, everything changed. Because with hope, I had a reason to find my way out.
5. I began to express myself.
Once I had set a strong foundation and could see the light at the end of the tunnel, the next step came intuitively. One day, I picked up a paintbrush, and I started expressing myself. At first, I started expressing myself on the canvas, telling the story of my love and my pain one image at a time. And something incredible happened.
A lifetime of pain, sadness, anger, hurt and fear started pouring out of my mind, body and soul. And it started to lessen. For me, expression gave a voice to my experience. Each time I told my story on the canvas, the validation I felt was transformational.
6. I actively sought out new opportunities to heal.
At this point, I began to channel my pain into every form of expression I could think of: fine art, painting, journaling, reading, music. I expressed myself through different therapies and hobbies. I began to study energy work, and I learned so much about who I am and what I have to offer. Over time, I was able to hone my natural abilities and control that flood of energy. I even became a Reiki Master and Certified Aura Personality Consultant.
And I felt better – but there was still pain stuck deep in my body, on a cellular level. So I dove into alternative therapies, like Emotion Code Therapy and Cellular Release Therapy, that would help my body release some of the deep sadness it had been holding onto. I made self-love, self-acceptance and forgiveness my goal and worked toward it like it was my day job. I meditated when I needed to reach a higher state of awareness, and I rested when it was time to let it all settle.
In my story, any form of therapy or expression was on the table – as long as it felt good to me. I didn’t need to follow anyone else’s healing journey to find my salvation. All I had to do was write my own way.
Above all, my healing process was about a deep need to understand myself. And I wouldn’t stop until I did. So I continued to share my story with others. I started conversations about the things I was experiencing, and I invited others to be a part of them. Using my intuition, I followed one gut instinct to the next, and I paid attention to what was healing me, as well as what was making a difference to others.
Share With Us!
How do you share your story? What types of self-expression and storytelling would help you understand yourself and your experiences on a deeper level?
Share with us! We would love to know!
Your story is so important.
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