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  • Will Chenault

Your Story... and Why It Matters



In his book To Be Told, psychologist and author Dan Allender writes a profound statement, “If we don’t tell our stories, our stories will tell us.” What is the meaning of this and why is it important?


Very simply, we never become who we are in a vacuum. The world in which we live and grow influences our temperament, personality, fears, anxieties, longings, and desires. Our values, ethics, and philosophies are not formed neutrally; we are shaped by a variety of factors. Family of origin, religious beliefs, and our geographic culture all shape the contours of our stories.


Excavating these nuances helps us become aware of how these events impact our lives today. What may seem small or insignificant, even possibly a throw away part of our story, can make deep inroads within our heart. Only by digging deep into our personal narrative do we become aware of the lingering impact. Our sinful patterns of shame, hiding, and blaming along with our harmful ways of relating didn’t simply happen to us, they were created and cultivated by our reaction to events within our story. I often find that clients are unaware of how they have been shaped both positively and negatively by the millions of little exchanges that have taken place over a lifetime.


Think how the positive experiences in our stories influence and strengthen us even today. Most of us remember the people who inspired us with words of affirmation and encouragement. Their presence was life-giving. We have stories of beauty and strength that fuel our sense of self. We also can recall moments of suffering and tragedy that become major shaping events. For example, consider how the harsh words of a parent or the harmful messages heard early on in school such as, “You can’t fail. You have to be perfect.” still linger. Sadly, we also remember feelings of shame as we were overlooked when teams were chosen in gym class. Those same feelings get triggered today when we experience rejection. Something as seemingly benign as a comment about a part of our bodies or more severely the haunting words of an abuser who swore vengeance if the secrets were told creates an opportunity for reoccurring fear, shame, and helplessness. The shades of our personal experiences may vary, but no one gets a pass from the residual damage of living in a fallen world. If we don’t tell our stories, our stories will tell us.


The road to emotional health begins by having a skilled guide help you through the peaks and valleys of your unique story. Because your story matters, you can begin this process today by scheduling an appointment to begin your journey.



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Tel: 423-741-3506

will@emotionallyhealthy.net