As a business mentor and life coach, Haylee Stamper has helped thousands of women find their voice, move on from problematic relationships, grow their income, and kickstart their entrepreneurial journeys through an approach called Conscious Self-Evolution. In this article, we talk to her about how sharing her story has been instrumental in her own path to recovery, and how she harnessed its power to bring healing to the lives of other people.
Why are stories important?
First, I want you to think of the stories you encounter on a daily basis, and how they have impacted your life. Think of the last time you left a heart reaction on a Facebook post, the last time you had a warm feeling in your heart after watching a movie, the last time you listened to an interview or podcast and stalked the guest speaker afterward, the last time you read a book, or the last time you had a great connection with a person. Think of the last person who you held space for, where you saw them for who they truly were. Think of who did the same for you.
The common thread among all of these? Storytelling. Stories have enriched our lives since time immemorial. They make us laugh, brighten up our day, and give us courage and inspiration. From an evolutionary perspective, stories have long been a key to human evolution. They told us how to navigate the world around us, and how we might cooperate in order to survive.
Stories connect us to each other. They let us know that we are not alone.
How has storytelling helped you in your career?
I wasn’t always a life coach. I’d been an Olympic-trained figure skater for 10 years, and I taught Pilates for more than 17 years. I was obsessed with perfection, and I was very hard on myself. I wasn’t always emotionally strong; I constantly sought validation from other people, went through a string of toxic relationships, and a bad first marriage. It came to a point where I hit rock bottom and I didn’t want to live anymore.
Then one day, while feeling dead inside and lying on a couch, I decided to just take the wheel and stand up. I didn’t want to be a victim anymore. I stopped fighting my feelings and embraced my emotional capacity and sensitivity. And in the process of healing my trauma, I decided to take the next step and share my story. After that, hundreds of women began reaching out to me, and telling me how much my own story resonated with theirs. That’s when I realized how powerful sharing my own story could be–that I could use it to help people.
What are the benefits of sharing your story?
Storytelling is a powerful way to make yourself realize that you aren’t alone, and that there are many other people like you who are suffering the same way, or living the same truth. Believe me, your story has the power to change someone else’s life.
Science also tells us that telling your story is good for your physical health. Talking about your trauma is an act of releasing stress and tension, where your brain tells your body that everything is fine. Reducing stress lowers your heart rate, blood pressure, and helps you sleep better.
Why do you think are people afraid to tell their stories?
Sharing your story can definitely be scary, especially if you’ve been hurt, judged, and rejected so many times. Perhaps you’re afraid of what other people might think. Maybe you’re still healing or processing your experiences. I’ve been in that place myself where I felt that I needed to suppress my voice and stay small, even though I had a burning desire to break out and evolve from the pain I wanted to leave behind.
How can people overcome the fear of sharing their own story?
The best way to overcome this fear is to embrace vulnerability. Let go of the idea that being vulnerable is a sign of weakness. On the contrary, it takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there.
That said, having this kind of courage isn’t easy at all. Self-doubt is a powerful enemy; it’s difficult to overcome long-held beliefs about being imperfect, unworthy, or not good enough. But it’s all up to you to challenge these fears and these judgments that you have about yourself.
If it helps, make these fears part of the story that you tell. People will appreciate your courage, and those who resonated with your story but couldn’t tell it themselves will grant you gratitude and admiration.
By sharing your story, you help others on their own journeys to healing. Even if it changes the life of only one person, you know that will have made all the difference.