Wondering Wednesdays: learning through stories


Today is day 1 of our human development module.   It is a day for storytelling as we explore how we have been shaped by our experiences, how our faith has been shaped by our understanding of God’s story.  We remember, we laugh, we may even cry a little bit.  We talk about what stories we most remember from our childhood and how we may have been influenced by them.  I blogged previously about Jo March, hers was one of the stories that shaped my understanding of what it was to be a woman.  More recently I have been inspired by watching the film Brave and hope that is a story which will shape both young boys and girls, I can’t remember anything quite so empowering from my childhood!  I was never really someone who wanted to be rescued and was more of a tomboy than a princess despite being called Sally!

Stories also help us to reflect with other people and can give a safer way to explore some difficult options.  This is one of the stories I sometimes use:

So Bipley sat by the grey lake in Wibble Wood and thought and thought.  “If I keep the tough stuff around my heart, I need never feel hurt again.  But then having the tough stuff around my heart means that I can’t feel any of the beautiful things in the world.”  Bipley was very, very stuck.  It felt like he was sitting next to the biggest problem of his life (p13).

The story works in several ways and while it is for children it can sometimes produce some fascinating insights with adults:

It presents options about what to do when you face a huge obstacle in your life.

It presents new possibilities, creative solutions for tackling and overcoming seemingly insurmountable problems.

It shows ways of dealing more effectively and far less painfully with very common emotional problems.

It provides options for new ways of being.

These new ways forward may not be acted on in the child’s life right as that moment, but can act as a seed planted in his mind, taken in as a resource, and lived and used fully in later life (p12).

From Sunderland, M.  Using Story Telling as a Therapeutic Tool with Children.  Bicester:  Speechmark, p12-13.

What are the stories, or books, or films or songs which have shaped you or been therapeutic at particular points in your life?



4 thoughts on “Wondering Wednesdays: learning through stories

  1. For me there have been lots but most recently, “The huge bag of worries” and “the velveteen rabbit” have been quite important both to me and in my work.
    Stories have always helped me find ways of letting myself feel things, if a character was sad then it was okay for me to feel sad with them. I also wrote and self published a short story when I was 15, the writing too helped me survive through that time. Imagination is powerful. One of the things I hate the most about the ‘darkness’ that’s taken over my head is that I have so little concentration any more, reading is almost impossible and writing a struggle too. I miss it now.

    • Heard of the velveteen rabbit through Friends (tv prog)! Huge bag of worries looks good – don’t know if out of stock means out of print! I loved reading as a child – still do but much less time to read for pleasure. I imagine it must be quite frustrating not being able to concentrate very easily. Do find writing therapeutic but should do it more outside of what I do for work…

  2. I think I could do with doing a module like that again! Since being ill I haven’t read much but I have always found story telling very theraputic both for myself and as a way to help other people express themselves. I love using puppets or drama as it sort of gives permission to say things you may not otherwise. Since my teenage years I have written a lot of poety, mainly expressing my feelings as well as helping me connect with God. I have to be in the right mood though to be able to write. Sometimes the words just flow from me and other times they remain silent.

    As for your blog I feel a bit like Bipley at the moment. Things have certainally improved in my life in the last month although I still have a long way to go. After so long of struggling I feel scared…almost as if I have forgotten how to live. I think Bipley puts it well “If I keep the tough stuff around my heart, I need never feel hurt again. But then having the tough stuff around my heart means that I can’t feel any of the beautiful things in the world.” I long to experience the wonder of God’s world again, but often i just don’t know how.

  3. Oh yes – do get hold of The Velveteen Rabbit Sally….. it is real classic demonstrating the reality for children and the power of imagination. Sure you’d find it useful!

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