More Story Questions

On this week’s podcast, the conclusion of our Story series, Dan engages four remaining questions that he often hears from people interested in working with their own stories, particularly through one of our Story Workshops. Dan acknowledges that it is impossible to cover every question that might come up, so if you are still curious about an aspect of this topic that Dan has not addressed, we invite you to comment on this post on Facebook or tweet us at with your questions for consideration in a future series.

Question One: Why should I tell my story in a group?

The Story Workshop, an opportunity to explore your story in the presence of others, is a profound, life-changing process. But some people balk at the idea of doing this work in a group; it can feel intimidating and embarrassing. We believe, though, that the group dynamic—under the leadership of a trained, caring guide—is a powerful tool for insight and healing.

“Your brain is social. Your brain is meant to engage the drama of life most deeply in social relationships. So not only do you get insight and perspective that varies with each participant, but in some ways what you find is your brain heals by the presence of others—assuming that they have the capacity to ask good, hard questions and engage you well in that process.”

Question Two: How do I tell stories that seem to implicate others, when I don’t have their permission?

Dan suggests that, before a story is engaged in a public context, they should—when plausible—be engaged privately, over multiple engagements, with the other people involved in the story. Other individuals can add to the detail and veracity of our stories. That being said, there may come a point in which you are ready to share a story but someone else wants to keep you silent.

“I don’t think a person who’s bound by shame, bound by a false propriety, bound by an ugly notion of honor, should have the power to dictate what stories are told or not told. […] To tell the truth as you understand the truth, with no desire to vilify, demean, degrade those who have done you harm—I don’t think you leave that in their hands, finally, as to whether that story has the freedom to be told or not.”

Question Three: How do I come to peace with stories that I despise?

Dan invites us to recognize that if we hate a story from our past, that is a better starting point than the common complacency that chooses not to engage those stories in the first place. Then he challenges us to reframe our understanding of that hatred.

“I don’t think we hate our stories, I think we hate ourselves. […] When you hate that 8-year-old for being so stupid, when you hate that 14-year-old for being so needy, you can’t help but hate some dimension of who you are even today. […] What do we do with shame that gets focused through hatred with regard to some part of who we are? The real issue isn’t hatred, it’s shame.”

Question Four: What do I do when I feel like my story has the potential to destroy other people in my life?

Dan turns to the patriarchal narratives of Genesis, which tell brutally honest stories of harm being endured because of the messiness and idolatry of the fathers.

“I don’t believe the scriptures ever reverse our call to honor our mothers and fathers, but honesty and honor are never meant to be in conflict. […] The reason for engaging stories is to honor love. And for love to be honored, it must be truthful.”

If you are intrigued by this conversation and want to begin the beautiful, difficult work of engaging your own story and learning to engage the stories of others, we invite you to join us for our next Story Workshop, August 20-23 in Seattle.