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Stories have magical properties for us. They can quickly engage and enthrall us, they are also an unequalled medium for teaching and learning. Part of the power is that stories operate on so many levels at once. From nursery rhyme to epic they narrate tales that we can identify with and understand, while simulatenously speaking to our unconscious using the language of idiom and metaphor.

The most important story, once we are past childhood, is the narrative of our own life.This too is powerful. The narrative can be bent and manipulated, and it too has many levels. There is the objective story, for example, which is the one we live publicly. There is little we can do to shape this as it unfolds, it is simply a record of events, albeit one with several versions. It is verifiable.

Then there is the story we tell ourselves. Here there is much more potential for editing and adaptation. It changes with the telling, and shaded and contoured according to our audience. This is highly subjective, you might say iridescent, because it changes with the angle from which we view it.

We are so dazzled by the story of ourselves that we can fail to notice that the most important character is also the storyteller. In the normal course of events we judge a story depending on who is telling it. We look for undeclared interests; the storyteller’s agenda that might invalidate the account they are giving.

So it should be with ourselves, by understanding the motives behind our stories we can learn a lot about who we are and how we wish to be portrayed. Observing the narrator can sometimes tell us more than the story does.

 

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