I’m Dr. Fayth M. Parks professor of Leadership and Psychology at the Graduate School of Leadership and Change at Antioch University. What do we do with the experiences we’re having every day of our lives? There’s a flow of experiences at work, at school, in our community, in our families. It’s endless.
How do we make sense of all of this? Now people make meaning in their lives through the stories that they tell. Stories or narratives are the frame for organizing our experiences. Stories increase our understanding by building bridges of emotional and spiritual connections between people. The key to our heart is our stories.
Cognitive psychologists describe how the human mind, in its attempt to understand and remember, assembles the bits and pieces of experience into a story. We tend to forget lists and bullet points, but stories. Stories are how we remember. It’s through stories that we begin to understand human experiences as lived, understood.
We deal with experience by constructing stories and listening to other people’s stories. Stories operate at many levels in our personal psyche and larger culture. We can awaken human strengths such as love and hope and courage, and compassion when we see ourselves in other people’s stories. I promote the power of story for connecting our humanity in my teaching, counseling practice, research, and social.