why I love stories

You’ve heard the story of Hansel and Gretel, right?

You know, the two kids who were unceremoniously abandoned by their parents in the forest, then lured to a gingerbread cottage by a sneaky witch with an appetite for young children.

So. Things looked pretty bleak for them. But they were a savvy duo, and by the end of the story they’d proved their courage and resilience. Not only did they beat the witch at her own game and shove her into the oven when she least expected it, but they also discovered a treasure-trove of riches. Enough to last a lifetime.

And then, they did something a little strange: they went home.

They went back to that place of pain and sorrow.

A few years ago I was at a seminar listening to Jonathan Young (my favorite psychologist/storyteller) recount the tale of Hansel and Gretel. During the break, chatting with my table-mate, I was struck by their choice to go home.

“It’s kind of amazing,” I concluded, “that they decided to go back to that place.

At that precise moment Dr. Young walked by. He looked at me and said, “But you know why they have to go home, don’t you?”

I did know.

Hansel and Gretel had to return home to fully claim their story.

In fact, whenever home shows up in a story, it’s a reflection of our deepest self.

Our deepest stories, both light and dark.

At least, psychologically speaking, that is.

And if we don’t come home to ourselves and all of our stories, especially the challenging ones, we risk cutting ourselves off from the growth and wisdom embedded in those stories.

Now, I know it’s popular these days to talk about rewriting your challenging stories or ditching them, because, well, they’re just too limiting.

But I say the opposite: let’s celebrate all of our stories.

Let’s love them up.

Let’s dive down into them.

Let’s acknowledge that, like Hansel and Gretel, we have a story of abandonment holding hands with a story of courage and resilience. Or for the artist in us, a story of creative imagination holding hands with a story of prima-donna perfectionism.

By loving up our stories we bring awareness to them.

And really, it’s awareness that’s important when we’re talking about limiting stories.

All the recent research seems to say that we can’t actually change or let go of our stories and thoughts.

But through awareness we can step back and put some space between us and them when we feel pulled in.

So let’s stop dissing our limiting stories, shall we?

Let’s stop saying: You’re outta my life, you no-good story!

I mean, ouch!


Why would we do that to ourselves?

There are so many kinder ways to bring awareness to the depths of our amazing stories. Like creating paper dolls out of them, which is what I’m doing today for art every day month.

And that’s why I love stories. Yours. Mine. Everyone’s.

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14 thoughts on “why I love stories

  1. Wow Patty, the timing of this! I’ve been going thru my writing files – yes, of stories – to see what I want to do with them all. Some great beginnings, some need editing (badly) some are barely ideas let alone stories – lots of words, pages of them. What to do? I have my favorites but to trash the rest? Such decisions, haha! I love that you said to stop dissing our limited stories. You may have been meaning something entirely different, but it spoke to me!

  2. the dolls here remind me of a GirlScout project: dressing our dolls for different nations. That was way many years ago and yet your pictures took me right back to that and I haven’t thought of it in probably that way many years!

    I love stories and I totally agree that we have to own our stories. We can rewrite what we choose to focus on but that doesn’t necessarily mean discarding the rest. Maybe blessing it and thanking it for getting us where we are because it’s all part of the journey.

    Great post – thanks!

  3. While there are some stories I’d rather not retell or hear again, I think you are right they are part of who I am and therefore don’t deserve to be tossed as trash. I like what Tammy said and agree our stories have helped us get where today.

    I loved the pictures of the paper dolls. My favorite one was the last one of the two dolls holding hands.

    I hope your week is going well:~)

  4. Fascinating. When I’ve shared with friends my bad stories of my life I’m almost always met with a response that says that those days are over now and urging me to look forward. While I do agree that we have to look forward and not be limited by our past, I have always felt that I needed to hold my bad stories in a place of honor inside myself. They are my reality, my life, my history. They’ve made me who I am and they’ve given me the strength and knowledge that I have now. I don’t want to “be done” with those stories. They’re amazing stories! Thank you. I needed to read this.

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