Live where you fear to live.
Destroy your reputation.
Today I started teaching a class “Living Out Loud ” for the Transformative Language Arts Network .
The first class addresses how fear and shame silence us. What do we fear when we consider sharing a personal story? The list is pretty long. We fear ridicule, judgment, failing, being vulnerable, feeling incompetent, being misunderstood and being shamed. We fear being found out. We fear exposure. We fear that our story is “boring” and who would want to hear that? We fear what might happen if we share our story and what might happen is usually, in our minds, quite awful. If people knew my secrets, who would want to know me? These fears silence our voice and prevent us from experiencing the creative life we dream of having. Brene Brown, author of “The Gifts of Imperfection” claims it’s shame that silences our voices.
How do we get out of shame and fear? We tell our story. We “live where we fear to live. “
When I was writing Snap!, my story about having a severe mental breakdown as a teenager and being committed to a state mental hospital for my entire junior year I knew I had to tell the story to myself to make sense of what had happened to me and was still influencing my life. I knew I also had to tell the story to others. As a storyteller I believe in the power of stories to heal us from our emotional wounds. I don’t just think this. I know this to be true. It’s happened to me countless times. I have witnessed it in my students and fellow storytellers. It wasn’t easy by any means but the freedom I gained and the service I can to others now makes it all worth it. The power of stories to heal the psyche is real and it works for the teller and the listener.
Where do you fear to live?
What stories do you fear to tell?
Here are two story prompts that might help you tell your story:
1. a short fairy tale about a character who accomplishes something despite being afraid
2. a true story of when you accomplished something despite being afraid
Story creation begins in wonder. Creativity asks questions. My two favorite questions are what do I notice and what do I wonder?
Make a list of what you notice on one sheet of paper and what you wonder on another sheet of paper. Start to add in the setting, the characters, and the event. Stick with those two questions and watch your story develop. Once you’ve got that then do the scary thing… speak it out loud- to your cat, into your phone, to your friends, to yourself. Let curiosity overwhelm you.
Let’s bring our fears into the light by sharing them. Let’s live where we fear to live. Let’s be notorious and destroy our reputations.
Images by flickr