Story Sage, Part One

This week on the podcast, Dan is joined by Cathy Loerzel, Executive Director, and Rachael Clinton, Assistant Director of Program Development and Admissions, to explore the art of having deep, meaningful conversations about stories. This discussion comes as we prepare to launch a brand new online course, Story Sage, all about developing the capacity and skill to enter stories of harm with curiosity and care. Click here to be the first to know when we launch this new online course.

In addressing the wider context of this conversation, Dan reflects on how, even as we’re able to see and hear more content than ever before, many of us have lost what it means to truly witness and deeply listen to stories. We are more connected than ever, with thousands of “friends” online, and yet the collective sense of isolation and disconnection is deep and pervasive. Awareness of widespread loneliness—and its devastating impacts—is growing, say Dan, and “people are dying to have their stories heard and engaged.”

People are dying to have their stories heard and engaged.

For years, The Allender Center has been addressing this deep need and desperate longing for connection. Story Sage will mark a significant step in that work as we continue to make our teaching and resources accessible for as many people as possible. The course will be divided into two separate classes: one about tools and frameworks for engaging stories well, and one that illustrates those concepts as Dan interacts with a woman who’s engaging her own story of sexual abuse.

Cathy: “What we tried to do in this series is pull back the curtain a little.”

Cathy reflects on her experience training facilitators and seeing over and over again how difficult it is to remain curious about and attuned to others—even for people who care deeply about this work and want to do it well. We bump up against the resistance and defenses that are rooted in our own story, not to mention the endless distractions and competing priorities of day-to-day life. To remain present with and curious about another person as you step into their stories of heartache and harm—that is an art, and it is far more costly than just being a “good listener.”

Cathy: “So often our work is to move past empathy and advice.”

Rachael: “To move to that deeper level takes both skill and a kind of wisdom—and courage.”

Rachael, Cathy, and Dan begin unpacking the themes of attunement, containment, and rupture and repair that are essential for meaningful conversations, and they reflect on the challenge of pursuing deep connection even in our own families and friendships. Next week, they will continue this discussion by sharing more about the Story Sage online course and by exploring more of the nuts and bolts of facilitating healing in the stories of others.

Cathy: “Our profoundly lonely hearts are aching. Engaging in these sorts of conversations is both what our hearts are made for and what will bring life.”