Tag Archives: Storytelling

The Power of Language & Story

Language dictates consciousness. -Nietzsche

I write to transform myself and my life. The power of words is indisputable. Everything in our lives exists through words and language. It is not until we actually begin to harness language that our very own existence comes into being. We cannot describe our own life and experience until we have words. Even if we have memories from before we had language they are not called into being until we have the words to recreate the memory. They have scientifically proven that memories are recreated in our brain every time we bring them up in our minds. Basically, the memory does not exist until we call it into being with language in our minds.

We literally create our world through language. Without language we cannot name our feelings, actions, or the objects that make up our lives. This is so incredibly powerful! This is why language and story is so powerful. For better and for worse.

Words and language are strange and magical. We have words that at their base essence mean similar things, but evoke completely different experiences mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. This is the duality of life and language.  The following quote is an example of this.

Language has created the word “loneliness” to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word “solitude” to express the glory of being alone. -Paul Tillich

If we create the story of our lives from the words we speak in our minds and to others we have the infinite power to recreate our story again and again until it actually empowers us. That does not mean it needs to be all delicate and beautiful cherry blossoms. If we watch any good movie or read any good book it is through the ranging story arc that we feel and become enraptured. It is through the full expression of emotions and experience that we are drawn in and able to immerse ourselves in the experience.

So I guess what I am saying is don’t be afraid to have darkness in your stories. Have the darkness. Show the pain. But let the pain and darkness lead you to a place of empowerment. Harness those fucked up experiences and make them something meaningful and transformative. Show others (and yourself) the beauty in the darkness.

Case in point: My older brother beat the living shit out of me throughout a good portion of my childhood. Though this really sucked at the time, it made me who I am today. It made me incredibly strong. It was the fire against which my very strength was tempered, allowing me to become mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually resilient at an incredibly young age. It was through sharing the intensity of that transformative experience in my college application that got me to into Stanford — the biggest dream of my adolescence. If I hadn’t had that experience I am not sure if I would have been so driven to make it into Stanford.  Neither would I have had the courage or the actual dark and enthralling story of transformation that inspired Stanford admissions to give me a shot.

I could have used that experience to tell a story that left me powerless. I could have used that experience with my older brother to oppress myself and hold myself back. Instead I took that darkness and turned it into something that made my life greater. I used that experience as fuel for myself in my pursuits. I worked to make that story one of triumph and transformation. And I did. Still to this day I call upon this story. To remember that even the shittiest things can lead to the grandest of things if we choose to find the strength and beauty that always lies hidden within.  We always have the power to unlock and free ourself from any story.

There are two important pieces of language and story that can serve us in finding empowerment. If you haven’t found the silver lining in the experience keep looking. It is always there or the story isn’t over. Let the experience drive you to make it a story worth retelling with a sense of victory. Until you transform yourself from victim to victor in your own stories you are oppressing yourself.

The truly magical thing about life and our stories is that we can forever retell them and remake ourselves in the process. This is alchemy through narrative. We can call into being whomever we choose. We can literally shape the essence of our being and our life as our very own author. It is paramount to be aware that we do this with every experience we have. There is what happened and there is the story and meaning we attach to what happened. The story and the meaning we attach (consciously or unconsciously) is what creates our personal reality.

Still to this day I am discovering disempowering stories I tell about myself and my life. I am working on rewriting them and crafting a truly powerful story about myself and my life. I will likely spend the rest of my life doing this. And that is awesome.

There is always great awe, wonder, and fascination to be found in our own personal transformation. The magic and power of re-creation will always be alive and available in my mind, heart, body, and spirit as I go through this process again and again.

What characters and roles do you call into being with your stories about your life? The ones you tell yourself and the ones you tell others? Do your stories leave you powerless or empowered?

In alchemy & service,

Justin David Carl | LifesRake 🌒

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