If stories come to you, care for them. And learn to give them away where they are needed. Sometimes a person needs a story more than food to stay alive. – Barry Lopez

Allender says that we tell stories mostly to serve a point or purpose, and that purpose is as important if not more than the story itself. Sometimes the purpose is as clear as a person saying, “I know what I did was wrong, but I need your input to know what to do next time.” Other times, the wisest of interpreters can’t fathom the labyrinth-like, convoluted purpose of a story that rambles on endlessly. But we are always listening to a story with a “so what” interpretive ear – What do you want me to feel, think, or do as a result of your telling me this story?

[restrict] Often there are multiple purposes in the telling of the story than can be discovered through multiple hearing. When someone is telling a story, we listen with our shoes off and hands open to take in all that is said. (We don’t gossip about the storyteller or use it against them). When I tell you my stories in support of the theme, I’m not merely telling you of an event but I’m inviting you to enter a journey. It takes relationships to abuse and it will take relationships to heal. Stories send us and our listener on a healing path to wholeness – a process to self-awareness [of both true and false self].

False self is insecure because it’s not your real you. Insecurity drives us to constantly seek approval which means we’re perpetually worried that others are forming a bad opinion of us. It shames and raises guilt in us. This is what Jesus meant about a thief that comes to steal, kill and destroy. It is a slow and subtle process of stealing our joy, creativity, and spontaneity from life.

True self is self acceptance. Accepting your gifts and talents and acknowledging your shadows (our darker side). Self acceptance is seeing yourself as you really are which is better experience than it may sound. True self is not competitive, does not compare, and is not critical. It is the beginning to becoming who you want to be. Self acceptance delivers us from selfish pride and self-importance (arrogance). Pride is always living on the outside – what I own, where I live, what I do and what I’ve done, how I look, and who I’m associated with. Arrogance says ‘I’m more important than you are!’ Thus violating our dignity, our worth.

Self-acceptance is about being brutally honest about our less commendable traits (our shadows) without feeling guilty or inadequate because of them. When you truly accept yourself for who you are, without feeling you have to pretend all the time, then paradoxically, your self confidence takes a monumental leap. Self acceptance doesn’t mean not striving to improve and change but it does mean making allowances for yourself sometimes, knowing your natural weaker points and accepting them while remembering your strong points.

Carl Rogers says, ‘The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.’

If you think you don’t have any shadows then you don’t need God. [/restrict]