Why Are Stories So Important To Us? Part 1. By Dr Linda Berman.

Walther_Firle_The_fairy_taleWalther Firle. The Fairytale. Wikimedia Commons.

“I am a storyteller, for better and for worse. I suspect that a feeling for stories, for narrative, is a universal human disposition, going with our powers of language, consciousness of self, and autobiographical memory.”

Oliver Sacks

“We are the only animals that tell stories to understand the world we live in.”

Salman Rushdie

Once Upon A Time…. words we’ve heard since we were very young… words that still make us listen, expectantly, fill us with a feeling of comfort and the hope of a good story. A good story is a powerful tool.

“Very young children love and demand stories, and can understand complex matters presented as stories, when their powers of comprehending general concepts, paradigms, are almost nonexistent.”

Oliver Sacks

  • Why Do We Tell Stories?

Heinrich_Vogeler_Die_Märchenerzählerin_1907Die Märchenerzählerin. (The Storyteller) Heinrich Vogeler. Wikimedia Commons.

“Everybody is a story. When I was a child, people sat around kitchen tables and told their stories. We don’t do that so much anymore. Sitting around the table telling stories is not just a way of passing time. It is the way the wisdom gets passed along. The stuff that helps us to live a life worth remembering.”

 Rachel Remen

From the earliest cave paintings, to communications on Twitter, human beings have needed to tell their stories.

They do so to connect to others, to preserve history and to pass something on into the future through their narratives.

Telling stories helps us to know who we are, and to let others know what we have seen, heard and experienced.

When we read stories to children, we do so to be close to them, to settle and comfort them, to educate them and to continue old stories into a future generation.

“Stories lie deep in our souls. Stories lie so deep at the bottom of our hearts that they can bring people together on the deepest level. When I write a novel, I go into such depths.”

Haruki Murakami

“Every story matters…We are all worthy of telling our stories and having them heard. We all need to be seen and honored in the same way that we all need to breathe.”

Brené Brown

  • Stories And Identity

“In this universe, and this existence, where we live with this duality of whether we exist or not and who are we, the stories we tell ourselves are the stories that define the potentialities of our existence. We are the stories we tell ourselves.”

Shekhar Kapur

We each have our own unique lives, and, as a result, we create our own unique stories. No-one has lived a life like you, and no two people have the same story.

“Don’t forget – no one else sees the world the way you do, so no one else can tell the stories that you have to tell.”

Charles de Lint

Millais_Boyhood_of_RaleighThe Boyhood of Raleigh, 1871. Millais. Wikimedia Commons.

“Just stories. You and me, everybody, we’re a set of stories, and what those stories are is what makes us what we are.”

Charles de Lint

Stories confirm our identity because they affirm our experience; it is as if we need to have our stories witnessed by others, to validate and verify who we are and what we have seen and heard.

We all have stories about ourselves, ways of seeing and ways of thinking about who we are. The stories we tell about ourselves create our self-image and give our lives meaning.

“We have the right, and the obligation, to tell old stories in our own ways, because they are our stories.”

Neil Gaiman

There may, of course, be similarities between people’s stories, and it is these similarities that connect us, as we recognise ourselves and our own experiences in others’ narratives.

“The universe is one being. Everything and everyone is interconnected through an invisible web of stories. Whether we are aware of it or not, we are all in a silent conversation’

Ellie Shafak

  • Stories As Therapy.

“All sorrows can be borne if you put them into a story or tell a story about them. But if we cannot find a way of telling our story, our story tells us- we dream these stories, we develop symptoms, or we find ourselves acting in ways we don’t understand.”

Stephen Grosz

Narrative psychotherapy focusses on the stories that we tell ourselves, how we give our own meaning to and interpret our experiences.

In his comprehensive and excellent book, Narrative And Psychotherapy, John McLeod underlines the fact that ‘all therapies are narrative therapies,’ in that all therapies involve the telling of the client’s story.


What links the different kinds of narrative therapies, he says, is “…the intention to give every client the opportunity to tell his or her story, to really listen to these stories, and to allow space for the telling of new or different stories.”

Narrative therapy aims to empower the client, to discover their own voice and reevaluate the stories they tell about themselves:

Narrative therapy challenges dominant problematic stories that prevent people from living their best lives. Through narrative therapy, people can identify alternative stories, widen people’s views of self, challenge old and unhealthy beliefs, and open their minds to new ways of living that reflect a more accurate and healthy story.

Narrative therapy does not aim to change a person but to allow them to become an expert in their own life.”

Jodi Clarke

It is really helpful to examine the stories we tell ourselves and others about who we are.

How have you created the narrative about yourself? Do you give yourself a ‘bad press,’ by telling stories about yourself that put you in a negative light?

Are you trapped in a series of old stories about yourself that keeps you stuck? Or does your story remain tucked away inside, silent, untold?

8966200511_14667183fd_oPablo Picasso – Absinthe Drinker [1901]. Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

Maya Angelou

From Pillow Thoughts II: Healing the Heart 
by Courtney Peppernell

“Stories have no beginning and no end, only doors through which one may enter them.”

Carlos Ruiz Zafón

29116102166_299e42daf3_oJohn George Brown – A Tough Story [1886]Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.

“Tell your story.
Shout it. Write it.
Whisper it if you have to.
But tell it.
Some won’t understand it.
Some will outright reject it.
But many will
thank you for it.
And then the most
magical thing will happen.
One by one, voices will start
whispering, ‘Me, too.’
And your tribe will gather.
And you will never
feel alone again.”

L.R. Knost


Read Part 2 of this post next Tuesday.

©Linda Berman


  1. Lovely collection of quotes about why stories are important.

    We are all unique individuals, who are interdependent and interconnected in a bid to survive. Each story is unique yet similar in so many ways. Stories that resonate with our experience become our own while others we treat as fairy tales .

    Nita Agarwal

    Sent from my iPad


    Liked by 1 person

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