The first step is admitting you have a problem…

I have never been good with the stories of others.

I have only recently, a few years into my 20’s, identified this to be a problem.

When Googling “the telling of others stories” I came across a number of articles discussing this from a humanitarian perspective in terms of giving a voice to the voiceless. So while cooking an onion and zucchini soup, I listened to a TED talk about the ethics of telling others stories.

A storyteller by trade, Lina Srivastava aims to amplify social issues through creative media. In her TEDxTransmedia talk Srivastana describes her time in Rwanda meeting with a female co-op and how this completely affected her understanding and method of telling the stories of others.

My Googling lead me to very similar stories about how we as a society have an obligation to tell the stories of others from a humanitarian perspective however I kept coming back to Srivastava’s words, “the key to storytelling is humility and empathy” and how this was uncomfortably relevant for my own life.

Labelled by my parents as a ‘social butterfly’, it is safe to say that I am a chatty person. I enjoy a good laugh and am not one to spare the use of dramatics.

Upon reflection, this style of storytelling is often the very opposite of empathy and humility.

I did not stumble upon this revelation after Srivastava’s TED talk but it is something that has been slowly creeping up on my conscious mind.

In a bizarre concoction of yoga practice, a new office job and an exponential rise in adult conversations (and relations) I have become increasingly aware of the ramifications of the way that I tell the stories, especially concerning the life and times of others.

To start with, I hadn’t ever truly appreciated how often I tell stories that don’t primarily concern me. I was surprised by how I was treating the lives and stories of others with complete and total reckless abandon.

Each story we tell has an untold amount of consequences and I find this unnerving that this has only now reached the forefront of my mind.

Yet despite my knowledge of this personality flaw of mine I have extreme difficulty to put my leanings into practice. After a few wines I will still divulge in some serious school yard gossip or tell my girlfriends about my dear old father joining me at yoga (which always receives serious lol’s).

In retrospect, I feel a twang of guilt. I believe we often feel a sense of guilt for stories told and yet we continue to do so. Sharing stories is an integral part of human connection and communication.

I will probably never stop telling the stories of others. Really, how could I?

But, what I will try to do is be conscious.

I will be conscious of the reason why I am telling the story? Would the cast of said story be happy with me sharing it? Am I being true to the story and the person and of course, am I being humble and empathetic?

I think these questions are important for all of us in our day to day.

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