What Makes a Person a Storyteller?

grandma-storytellingAs an actress, teacher, and life coach I have encountered many excellent storytellers who perform a variety of stories which can be categorized as personal biographical, family, cultural, and fantastical. On stage these stories are interpretive with the exception of improvisational theatre.  Even detailing the remembered events of a dream takes the form of story and evokes storytelling. No matter the uniqueness of each story, they all come from the desire of the storyteller to convey something of import to him or herself. The story is as much about conveying facts as it is about conveying feeling. If I’m now mistaken, it is also about moving the listener to laughter, tears or at the very least to a place of transformation.

What draws a person to want to be a storyteller in the first place? Obviously, an over active imagination, but also a deep need or craving for self expression, and a desire to touch people’s hearts and minds. I have also noticed that for many people the desire to story tell comes from a yearning to give voice to their hidden hopes, dreams, and desires, as well as their demons.

EngStoryteller.001Storytelling can also be a way to give voice to one’s internal negative voices whose purpose always seems to want to either make one fearful or ashamed. When a storyteller gives voice to one of these punitive thoughts, they tend to lose power, especially if one can talk back to them in a manner that demonstrates the person has more power than what Sibyl Chavis calls “the chief negativity officer.”

For example, if one of my internal voices is “no one will listen to you because you are too old,” then if I answer back something like: “What do you mean too old? How old is too old? And who are you to tell me what is too old or too young or whatever your deal is? I am just the right age for whatever I intend to master, to accomplish, to set my mind to.” And so on.

Lakota_storytellerInterestingly enough, it has been my experience that those of us who are plagued by these nonstop internal voices end up becoming the best storytellers of all. It is as if the thoughts that emerge want their place to be heard, either in written or oral form. And if they are not expressed and answered to, they merely tend to rattle around and around in our heads driving us to anxiety or depression. What I am getting at is each of us has the power to be the storyteller of our own life. We merely have to be aware of how the story manifests and then how we will give it voice.