What is storytelling and why is it important?
Defined by Oxford Dictionary as "the activity of telling or writing a story with words," storytelling has existed for as long as humans have communicated information. This definition begs the question of where the notion of storytelling fits in the landscape of mental health and wellness. During this conversation with Gian Power, founder of TLC Lions, we learn about the connection between sharing and healing.
How does storytelling manifest as a tool in mental health?
Episode #2 of The Scooty Fund’s (TSF) Scoot podcast holds space for this conversation as Power narrates the pain of losing his father to murder and the challenge of returning to his daily life routine. The loss of one of his colleagues soon after compounded an already devastating personal period.
A key principle of TSF’s mission is that of neutrality. This principle asserts that the full range of emotions are not inherently “good” or “bad", and helps to shed light on the unnamed and unexplored. The process of exchanging personal experiences allows one to name and explore the spectrum of feelings we grapple with. This TSF value speaks readily to the power of storytelling as discussed below.
During this podcast, Power references psychologist Jerome Bruner’s study, which analyzes the impact of storytelling from a neuroscience perspective. Harvard Business Review reported that during this study, students were 20 times more likely to retain information provided in a "storytelling" format versus the straightforward delivery of data. It seems that to share statistics without personal elements is to run the risk of missed connection with the listener. When the inexplicable or extraordinary is articulated with a truly personal touch, a story is born. This sharing of experiences aligns with TSF’s vision to create a world in which young adults practice “mindfulness, awareness, and nonjudgmental acceptance towards themselves and others,” as reads in The Scooty Fund (TSF) mission and vision.
Power of Perspective: What is the long-term impact of storytelling?
Storytelling is an impactful practice and its benefits can prove far-reaching. Power posits that value exists in every corner of life, “even the workplace.” While it may not strike as the conventional place to exchange personal life stories, he notes that "we are all human beings going to work, yet we leave this stuff at the door. We use storytelling as our methodology. People all have a powerful story and they know how and why it's relevant in the corporate world". This method of storytelling is core to TLC Lions' mission because stories not normally shared at all, let alone in the office, are destigmatized from discussion to better bond employees.
The storytelling of our trials and tribulations invites our community to hold space for suffering and its omnipresence in our lives. It is also an opportunity for anyone listening to see themselves in the details of that suffering. TLC Lions’ work to encourage storytelling as a workplace practice has improved connectivity among teams in several categories, which are featured on the company website.
Source: TLC Lions website
Someone who suffers from depression may well connect with the emotions felt by someone victimized by intimate partner violence, and so on. Storytelling about mental health is a reminder to note that you are not the first to feel this and will not be the last. At the same time, our pain is real, and it matters to someone else who has felt it too. We encourage you to implement the practice of mental health storytelling in both your personal and professional lives; you never know whose life your story could change.
For more insight on Gian’s story, work, and TLC Lions, you can listen to his interview on Scoot, wherever you listen to podcasts. Here’s the Spotify link
Learn more about our organization: http://www.scootyfund.org. Follow us on Instagram and LinkedIn.
Learn more about TLC Lions at https://www.tlclions.com/
You can follow Gian Power on Instagram: Instagram