Childhood Story Work – Coming Home to Love

The role of “deep knowing and love” in Childhood Story work was a central theme to reflect upon in a practitioner day with Dr Sarah Hill (Author of “Where did you learn to behave like that?”) and Tony Melville. The reflections and insights that emerged in this space from Sarah, Tony and my colleagues were spellbinding with deeply moving poetry and precious nuanced gems, along with laughter and connection. It was a special day. So much so, that I wanted to continue this “love” inquiry long after it ended.

To that end, here is a quote I discovered by Sheila Ryan that, for me, encapsulates the power of bringing the centrality of love in childhood story work. She says, “The heart is Ariadne’s thread leading the way home … Without engaging the heart, we journey hither and thither and find no resting place.”And in childhood story work I sense that it is an open heart that enables us to grow, heal and is the energy that infuses the new internal narrative, where at last we can come home to ourselves. I know for me and clients when the heart is not in play, we can over think, go on many complicated tangents, and get entangled with shadows of the past. The open heart starts to release this torment and opens us up to a different wisdom. As Rumi says, “Only from the heart can you touch the sky” and “Love is the sea when intellect drowns”

Professor Paul Brown sees love and trust being on the same emotional continuum and without this emotion, we as Story-guides, are unable to provide the security and safe space for the story sharer to touch in deeply to these vulnerable places and feel securely attached to us. David Kantor separates love in this work from romantic love for the Story-guide when he says love is: “Being deeply seen” and “knowing someone on such a profound level is a form of love”

All of this brings a space of non-judgement, spaciousness, trust, and protection to the Story-sharer. We know that love is a healing energy and quantum science has proven that it operates at a higher vibrational frequency. Sarah in “Where did you learn to behave like that” says, “Learning how to feel love, really take love in and bathe in its glory can be possible through the deeply nourishing relationship between Story-guide and Story-sharer.”

She also mentions David Kantor’s four questions about love for us to reflect on as the Story-sharer in this work:

  • Do I know I am loved?
  • Can I take love in?
  • Can I give love to others?
  • Do I know how to love?

I remember Sarah noticing at a Childhood Story Day for a coaching Masterclass that I was hosting for her, that I was getting some lovely positive feedback from a number of the delegates who had trained with me previously, and she wondered if I had taken this in? She had lightly posed the question and observed something in me that had raised this inquiry for her. What a helpful notice. I reflected on her question and knew deep down that I had blocked the warmth of these comments as somehow, I felt unworthy and undeserving of this feedback. I was leaning into fear at the time, not love, propagated from the wounds of an old childhood story. As Robin Shohet says, “We block love from our awareness because of fear” And it is in these briefest of encounters that we can raise our own awareness of our relationship with love, or whether we are abandoning ourselves to our deepest fears. It is these fears that can keep us small, immobilize our behavioural flexibility, where we slip into our shadow side and drive up the stakes in an interaction where we have been triggered. The past intrudes on the present and hijacks us.

I believe love is the energy accelerator in the temenos between Story-guide and Story-sharer that can turn lead into gold! A tarnished old internal narrative shaped from the immutable childhood story is turned into a bright and sparkly new one that is precious and one we can live into, be liberated by, and reflects our true worth.

We can learn, as I have done, to sense what is loving to us, starting with ourselves, even if that is lovingly disengaging from a challenging conversation, lovingly creating boundaries for us for protection, speaking our truth with an open heart or lovingly ‘opposing’ what is being said, whilst being open to the ebb and flow of an evolving conversation.

As the line from the song says, “Love changes everything,” and whilst there is schmalz here, I think if you look beyond romantic love to one of ‘deeply knowing’ another, there is also a powerful truth, including deeply knowing ourselves. And as the Story-sharer, if we can connect deeply with our heart, then we can find our resting place, as Ariadne did, of coming home to ourselves.

By Jill Savage, August 2022