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Self Care Tips

Life Stories

Karen Rowinsky - Wednesday, January 03, 2018
As a therapist, I have had the unique opportunity and privilege to hear many life stories. I am in awe of the strength and resilience most people have. I am amazed at the resources people find. I get to laugh at funny stories and hear about poignant moments that touch my heart.

My father-in-law recently died shortly before turning 100. He had a long and interesting life. While he was a great storyteller, I am grateful to his wife and family members who urged him to get his stories written down before he forgot them. It was a five year project but well worth it! While his story is written in chronological order, I doubt the telling happened that way. Some of the best storytelling happens during "stream of consciousness" conversations.

Each of us has unique life stories. Sharing our stories with another offers the opportunity to let someone know us better. Hearing others' stories gives us a window into what made them who they are.

So how can you get the storytelling going? It doesn't have to be a formal oral history or written as a book, but as simple as sitting next to someone and asking "story inducing" questions. Here are some questions that may help in starting the conversation:

  • What is the bravest thing you have ever done and how did you have the courage to do it?
  • What is your happiest memory?
  • What person had the greatest influence on you and how?
  • What was your most embarrassing moment?
I could go on and on but I think your curiosity will take it from here.

Most of the time, we think of asking for the life stories of elders we know but young peoples' stories can be equally interesting. Hearing someone's story, and sharing yours, can be part of your self care. When a person lets you into his or her life by sharing her/his story, you give each other the gift of connection. Most of us don't get enough of that gift.
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