When we tell our stories, we move from the western “I” to the biblical “we.”
There is a concept that some in the field of neuroscience call “increased integration.” Simply put, it’s the idea that when people share their personal stories with another, both people see changes in their brain circuitry. In fact, according to psychiatrist Dr. Daniel Siegel, when someone tells his or her story and is truly heard and understood, real change happens. They feel a greater sense of emotional and relational connection, decreased anxiety, and greater awareness of and compassion for others’ suffering.
Poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou said it this way: “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
The traction that the #metoo campaign has gained has been phenomenal. As we see woman after woman come forward with reports of harassment and assault from some in American leadership today, the discussion pulls two ends of the same cord and lands at varying points in the middle. For some, the question remains, “Who should we believe?” For others, the question is, “How can we help?” Both are helpful and both must be thoughtfully considered.
My past includes sexual assault. To this day, I wish this chapter weren’t part of my story. The shame has passed, but the memories linger. Over and over, I’ve sought to take out my proverbial eraser and omit the entire scene, and many following. And for many years, no one knew this chapter even existed. Until I shared it and everything changed.
When I look at the #metoo phenomenon, I’m admittedly perplexed. Pandora’s Box has been opened and stories spill out. Over social media, in news outlets, in 140-character tweets.
And I come back to one question that pesters me at night: …
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