I Believe In The Power of Storytelling

I believe in storytelling. I believe in the power of storytelling. Stories have the power to heal, connect, and build community. We are all natural storytellers because to be alive is to have a story to tell. Everyone has a story to tell… Everyone has a story worth telling.

Everyone has a story worth telling.  Elayna Fernandez ~ The Positive MOM

I was raised in a slum in the Dominican Republic, but extreme poverty was not my most painful struggle. My home was broken well before the divorce became news the day of my 10th birthday. Well before the first day of kindergarten, my bruises, scars, and stitches began to tell my untold stories: constant violence, cruel words, and an unforgiving environment that required perfection from an imperfect, spirited child.

Maya Angelou used to say that “there is no greater burden than carrying an untold story,” and I saw school as a way to release that agony. More than a student, I became an emotional refugee. School was my shelter, my safe haven, and my happy place. I had found a place where I could be myself, express myself and be heard. 

There is no greater burden than carrying an untold story. Maya Angelou

My dad jokes that my school notebooks were “my first blog.” I knew my teachers would review my homework, so each day, I wrote a journal entry in the form of a story for them to read. I don’t know if I’ll ever know their thoughts, but I felt more connected to them through this simple, yet brave, ritual. Though some people in my life would have preferred for these stories to remain buried and I often had to pay a painful price for telling them, I knew I loved it when my grandpa and my dad told stories, and I was motivated by my love and admiration for them. I learned that writing stories was as powerful as listening to them. I discovered that I could find meaning, purpose, and relief in storytelling and I became infatuated with it. 

When I was seven years old I started my first business; a cardboard puppet theater. The kids’ eyes lit up a neighborhood that rarely enjoyed the luxury of electric power. I was fascinated by the “oohs” and “ahhhs,” the tears flowing down their cheeks, and the laughter that upset the emptiness in their stomachs. These stories connected us and, though we had been programmed to believe we were different, we found a sense of equality in our hopes and in our pain.

Soon I realized that there was something potent behind these stories, beyond the coins I collected, beyond my own passion, beyond myself. Suddenly, fetching water didn’t feel as strenuous, my endless chores didn’t feel as difficult, and even the humiliating punishments didn’t feel as painful because each trial gave me a story to tell. I would tell a story everywhere to everyone who would listen. A story that would entertain, teach a universal lesson, infuse hope, and bust the cruel myth that people are alone in their hardships and that no one shares their joy.

Storytelling busts the cruel myth that people are alone in their hardships and that no one shares their joy - Elayna Fernandez ~ The Positive MOM

You may have heard of storytelling as an art form, but it’s actually much simpler than that. Storytelling does not require a special ability and it is not a skill you need to be trained on; storytelling is something that comes natural to you, that your brain is wired to do. A story is a retelling of events, so everything you experience is a potential story. But there are indeed requirements to storytelling: storytelling takes courage, humility, and empathy to share your journey. It requires getting out of your own way and being willing to unlearn what we’ve been taught as truth.

No wonder storytelling is easier for young children. Even the most quiet and reserved child can participate naturally and spontaneously in a story exchange. And a child who struggles with math or even with language, does not struggle telling you about something that evoked emotion: something they found funny, something that “made them happy,” something that “made them sad,” something they feel passionate about… a story. We don’t outgrow stories.

Have you ever read a parable, a chronicle, or even a vision and found yourself transported to the time, place, and event described? The most influential leaders, even Jesus Christ himself, have used storytelling to teach truth, model, and inspire human behavior. But you need not consider yourself to be a change-agent, a wordsmith, or a powerful orator to be storyteller.

Telling my emotional, vulnerable, raw stories has sustained me over the years. It makes sense now why through the fear, doubt, and uncertainty of single motherhood, I had the courage to make storytelling my career path. I took a while before I called it storytelling, and even longer before I owned the “storyteller” title. The stories I tell and share help other moms at times when they feel unworthy, unloved, and unwell… feelings that I’ve struggled with for so long… feelings that I’ve found the power of storytelling can heal, in any language.

When I saw my two older daughters become published authors at nine and ten years old, telling their stories to help others, my belief that we are all storytellers was reaffirmed. As I listen to my 3-year-old daughter recite the story of her birth, I also understand that a story need not be extraordinary or unique to be encouraging, persuasive, and enjoyable—it just needs to be your own.

Stories influence, transform, and build legacy. It is through the telling of stories, although not necessarily ornate, eloquent, nor articulate, that we create sacred connections, thriving communities, and firm conviction. 

Stories create conviction, community, and connection - Elayna Fernandez ~ The Positive MOM

Storytelling is not mere engaging communication or preservation of information; your story is the therapeutic elixir to your present, your link to the past, and your ticket to impact the future. I am a storyteller. You are a storyteller. Your life story matters—and no one can tell it the way you do. 

A heartfelt story told at the cradle, at the family dinner table, or through the digital campfire we call the Internet, can cause your ideas, your thoughts, and your perspective to become immortal.  Thankfully, there are thousands of platforms for telling the meaningful pieces of your story. Somehow, I’ve been led, almost pushed, to use these platforms, teach about them, and help others share their impactful stories on them.

Your life story matters and no one can tell it the way you do - Elayna Fernandez ~ The Positive MOM

Storytelling plays a role in helping us reclaim our personal power, redefine our identity, and establish our personal brand. As we craft our story, we get back to the essence of who we are and realize we are not our story. My story has evolved and has yet to evolve. And though I’m not omnipotent, unable to change the past, and with no special power to dictate every setting and character archetype in my story, I get to reframe my story, I get to attach meaning to that story, and in doing so, I can co-steer the direction in which my story goes. 

The ability to see our lives as stories rather than unrelated, random events increases the possibility for significant and purposeful action. Daniel Taylor quote

As you think of the most memorable stories in your lifetime, do you see a “once upon a time” that can become a “happily ever after?” Daniel Taylor, author of “Tell Me A Story: The Life-Shaping Power of Our Stories” puts it this way: “The ability to see our lives as stories rather than unrelated, random events increases the possibility for significant and purposeful action.” What if you could use the existing elements in your story and face the blank page of today with the confidence that you can co-author the next chapter? It’s so exciting! If we don’t like our story, we can change it.

If we don't like our story, we can change it. ~ The Positive MOM

Storytelling has been vital in my life because it’s a powerful tool to combat shame and trauma, as well as encourage intentional action toward deep personal transformation. However, what has had the most emotional impact in me is that facing my own story has helped me truly understand what it means to appreciate another human being’s story. 

Barack Obama once said “I had to know and understand my own story before I could listen and help other people with theirs.” As you use storytelling to reimagine who you truly are, your words can weave a common thread of unity that can create community and collective meaning. Your story is part of mine and my story part of yours… and as we exchange them, we become one.

What was the last story you told someone? Maybe it was about the first day of school,  about how you met someone, or how you started your home business. By sharing meaning, you invited that person into a deeper level of relationship with you and they created or deepened their perception of you. Let’s talk about the power of storytelling!

Elayna Fernandez - Author - 
Speaker - Success Guide to Moms and Mompreneurs
© Elayna Fernández ~ The Positive MOM

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36 thoughts on “I Believe In The Power of Storytelling

  1. What a lovely post! Storytelling is such a great way to connect with another person and understand them on a deeper level. You have some great insight! Keep it up!

  2. You have such an amazing way with words Elayna. I’m afraid I’m not much of a storyteller, I prefer to sit quietly and listen to others, especially those people who never get given the chance to tell there stories. They are the best.

  3. This is such a heart-warming story. It’s no wonder that your daughters are also published writers like yourself. They’re heading down a wonderful path. 🙂

  4. What a wonderful read! It’s true, how some people can communicate better through storytelling. I’m not a great writer such as yourself, but I like to express myself through photography. Thank you for sharing!

  5. Wow, what a heartfelt and inspiring story. I believe everyone has a story to tell and each one is completely different from the next persons. My daughter is such a story teller and it is so fascinating to see her become animated with emotions!

  6. My young grandson always asks for stories of his dad when he was young and also about things we did with him. The storytelling will help him remember the wonderful parts of his past.

  7. I also believe everyone has a story to tell. There’s a guy at my church that is always telling stories. It reminds of my grandparents when they would tell me stories of their childhood. I love to hear older people talk about their childhood. It give me some idea of what the period of time was like from a first hand experience.

  8. This is a great & you have such a gift for storytelling. I’ve always enjoyed writing & have found it therapeutic. I have always loved hearing stories from family members. My mom does this frequently (even the ones she has repeated many times). The most common story I tell lately is the when people ask about my blog & I explain its purpose & inspiration. 🙂

  9. Elayna!! I feel as if you have written words from within my own story. I started my first journal in 6th grade and somehow it became a way for me to release the secrets I had been forced to keep for so long. Letting those things go made room for the goodness God had been holding for me. I never realized I was keeping that good out by holding on to the bad. I still write to release – it’s an exchange for me. The bad for the good. I also write and share to give a voice to others who may be in my same situations but haven’t found their own release just yet. I hope through each of my words they see that letting go is one of the best ways to make room for the better in life. My most recent story was shared on my blog. I recently had to release family members from my life in order to stop the cycle of bad from reaching my children. It wasn’t an easy decision but it was one I had to make. Sharing that story helped me see I am not alone and hopefully it has helped others as well. Thank you so much for sharing this – your story – I pray you continue to do so because it is definitely making an impact and a change!

  10. Needless to say, you’re really good at storytelling. This post is so meta, storytelling about storytelling. You’ve just locked down the notion that I need to do more storytelling in my own blog. I’ve been doing more and more of it, but coming from a technical writer background sometimes it’s tough to get personal.

  11. Like your post, you are also a great story teller. when I was in school I find it boring to write any story but as I grown up I feel it is important for us to write something or some story so as to become a great blogger. That’s what had made me a story teller (however new to it).

  12. This makes total sense. I’m slowly allowing myself to be more vulnerable and tell my stories but there’s still some parts of me that I am afraid to share. Maybe someday!

  13. It pains me when I know I have things to write, but not the time to do it. For so many, the yearning to tell our story or stories in general is almost tangible.

  14. Your first paragraph reminded me of my journals back in school and how I hated them because of the restrictions that were placed on the journals and the way I’m bring judged for what I write. Ironic it is, that I’m a blogger now~

  15. First off, you are great at storytelling. I heard you speak at WAG and I had a knot in my throat the whole time, trying not to cry. Storytelling is so powerful because you get to touch so many people. I love listening to my mom and dad when they talk about their younger days, it almost transports me to that time.

  16. I love to read and hope for one day be a published author. I’m not sure people would find my personal story interesting right now. Maybe one day they will.

  17. And speaking of which, this is an incredible story! I loved reading every bit of it! Not only do you have an incredible way with words but it has more weight coming from you, knowing how much you have persevered and overcome throughout your life. You are an inspiration.

  18. Muchas gracias por compartir, esta es una hermosa historia, me encantan estos relatos en dónde puedes conectarte y transmitir a través de las palabras

  19. Story telling has really a power. A power to motivate other. That is why in my blogs I usually use stories to give inspiration and motivation to other readers. We never know how far these stories will go.

  20. You are an inspiration! It’s so amazing and inspiring when people know to transform bad stuff into good one. Just what you did with storytelling and you really are soo good at it! I’m so happy I found your blog <3

  21. This was such an inspiring and powerful post! I love how you had an outlet even when you were younger. This is the one thing that I love about people the most is their stories. Something, in fact everything, that happens in oir lives tells our story to who we are to this very day. Wonderful post!

  22. I love storytelling and enjoyed listening to my grandmother tell me stories of her childhood. It is a gift that benefits both the teller and the person who gets to hear or read the story. I enjoy reading your blog and the way you connect your stories and teach valuable lessons that us moms can relate to. Great post, thank you for writing it!

  23. Young authors in elementary school. Journalism, short stories, creative writing, in school, journals as an adult, reading and more reading…. stories shape and inspire. And some of us are SIMPLY MEANT to write them. Thank you for the work you put into your blog.

  24. Thank you for sharing a great post. I love your story. I’ve shared it with so many people, you can’t imagine. I love storytelling and I am a firm believer that each one of our stories, are powerful tools to change lives.

  25. Pingback: Why I'll Never Forget 9/11 And How It Impacted My Life ★ Elayna Fernandez ~ The Positive MOM ♥

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