Storytelling builds empathy. When we hear a story shared by someone about their life experiences, we come to see the world from someone else’s point of view.
Empathy is defined as the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. Listening to a story, we are living the storyteller’s experiences in our own minds. We get to experience their feelings by proxy through what are called mirror neurons. Mirror neurons are cells in the brain that activate when we hear stories. These cells actually elicit the feelings that the storyteller is sharing in our own brains. By feeling someone else’s feelings, we come to understand what their life is like, and grow in our own empathy.
The Storytelling Animal by Jonathan Gottschall
Eliciting Empathy for Adults in Chronic Pain through Autobiographical Memory Sharing by Susan Bluck, Jacqueline M. Baron, Sarah A. Ainsworth, Amanda N. Gesselman and Kim L. Gold.
Come back in the weeks to come to read more bite-sized posts about why storytelling is impactful to your life in the “Brief Benefits of Storytelling” series!