Storytelling Saves Lives

I strongly believe that learning to construct our stories in ways that powerfully and accurately convey what we feel—to the point of others successfully feeling the way we felt—is the single most valuable skill we can learn in life.

I honestly believe, storytelling saves lives.

I believe human beings are powerfully driven to satisfy a biological need to effectively seek out accurate transferences of feeling. Think about how frustrating it feels when you desperately need someone to understand how you feel, and then fail in your attempts to help them get it. A pressure begins building inside us and can’t find its way out.

Now compare that to a time when you found yourself in an environment (accidentally or intentionally) with the right person(s), and were able to craft your story in a way that they really, truly heard you. Perhaps they didn’t fully grasp the subtle details of your experience, but you knew they felt it. It’s one of the most amazing feelings in the world! That’s the transference of feeling I’m referring to. And that’s the feeling those with well-developed storytelling skills experience far more often than the rest of us.

I would even go so far as to hypothesize that this need—this incredibly powerful need to be heard to the point of others feeling what we feel—is so strong, that when left unsatisfied, has the potential of driving us to commit terrible acts of violence against others and even ourselves (i.e. – mass school shootings/suicides). The need to have others finally, somehow, really understand and feel the pain, frustration, sadness, or anger we’re experiencing, is so powerful, we’ll take any measure imaginable to achieve that transference of feeling—even if it requires ending our own life. Maybe then, people will finally get and feel how intensely we felt.

I don’t claim to be an expert in psychology and don’t want to oversimplify the complexity of such tragic events. However, there are very few motivations in life that have the power to drive us to such extremes. And as such—if this hypothesis is true—then all of a sudden, the skill of storytelling becomes one of the most important skills we absolutely need to develop in life.


  1. My husband and I call different generations home. In fact, we’re on the cusp of being separated by 2 generations. For us, this translates into ‘getting’ each other ~80% of the time, which is awesome. The other 20% can be BEYOND frustrating. I’m doing my best to develop my communication skills, b/c if I sit and reflect on our disagreements, most of the time we’re saying the same thing, just using different words. Storytelling/communication are indeed vital to our well being. Finding people to connect with and really understand our own thoughts/feelings is a rare and lovely treat. Thank you for this interesting/insightful post and reflection on how deeply we as humans crave to connect at a deeper level.

    • Thank you Rachel for this lovely comment. This is such a great case study of what I was writing about. It might even explain why falling in love and those honeymoon years of a marriage feel so good. I think it’s probably common for couples to communicate more deeply in those early years than in later years–allowing that full and accurate transference of feeling to take place on a more regular basis.

Comments are closed.