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Story and the power of meaning

Brene Brown’s TED talk, ‘The Power of Vulnerability’, is one of the most popular TED Talks of all time for a reason — she shines a light on ‘shame’ that all of us experience silently at some point in our life, pointing that authentic connections are built in the space of vulnerability, imperfection, and brokenness.

Inspired by her TED talk, we organised a storytelling event called ‘The Dark Side’ to explore how her theory work out in this part of the world.

A safe space to show your scar
I had never been to any meetup event that witnessed so much tears and captured so much brutal, heart-wrenching truths.

It was weird.

In that space, I felt safe to open up. I was ready to dive deep into my emotions and show everyone whatever is in there without reservation — the pain, the shame, the helplessness, the hopelessness, and the human instinct to bounce back in such situation.

I shared about a time when I hit the rock bottom and retreated back home. I also shared that it was my biggest setback in life that showed me how much more life has to offer besides constantly striving to be the best.

We develop strength in overcoming, in getting back up
When I observed the people and their tears while listening to their stories, I felt their strength, and a sense of pride in overcoming tough challenges to be where they are today.

There was no shame in talking about falling hard in life or having difficulty to make ends meet.

We heard the story about a boy who burnt down half of his house because he wanted to destroy an artwork that he wasn’t happy about. Decades later, he still remembers the look on his parents’ face — a look that was numbed by anger, deep disappointment, and confusion.

There was a story about losing everything in life to the point where one was struggling to put food on the table, and yet he turned to spiritual teachings and work his way out of the rut, expanding his skills and strengths to move towards his small success today.

We heard from a young millennial who was struggling all his life to establish his own identity under the shadow of his older siblings, overcoming the anger of not getting the support from parents to pursue his dream unlike what his siblings got. Instead of blaming, he works harder than anyone else.

We found a common ground in our dark stories

I learned that story is a bridge that helps us to understand each other and celebrate our ‘humanness’.

Without the need to be perfect, we created a space to embrace imperfection and failure as natural parts of personal evolution.

Many of us went through different event and setbacks in life, but I found that the things that reside on the dark side are similar — failure, struggle, fear, pain and shame.

When we talked about it, we met in the space of vulnerability, we saw each other for who we really are.

We are then able to dissolve differences with empathy, creating a community that embraces people who see different things, eat different foods, speak different languages, and live different lives.

We give meaning to stories, stories give us a voice to make a difference

After hosting 3 storytelling sessions, I experienced how vulnerability makes stories powerful. When we tell a story with emotion and authenticity, we are able to connect, inspire, and make a change in people’s life.

A participant said sharing her story helped her heal from a traumatic event. Another participant appreciated us for creating a safe space to be real. Someone told us that he came to our session because he has no opportunity to get heard as a money broker who works behind the screen.

Hearing all these feedback, it makes me think — how can we replicate this in family, in school, in organisation, in community?

It is a journey we are still exploring in Haus of Stories.

One story at a time, we will create a small ripple in the world.

Like to read?
My first book ‘The Art of Owning Your Story’ is ready for pre-order now! Click here to download a bonus chapter!

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