Stories Make Transformational Change Work Easy
By Bob Martel, Professional Hypnotist
Clients tell themselves stories. We do the same. It’s the human condition, right? Every client brings to us their life’s stories to the situation they seek to change or improve. We bring our own stories to the client engagement as well. As agents of change, assisting our clients to reframe their experience, introducing the use of stories as a powerful catalyst helps to accelerate their journey toward success, as they define it. Now, you can easily help them change the script of their life story, or even your own, with a story-changing tool that dates back to 650 B.C. – the fable. Aesop’s Fables, to be clear.
Stories can have a magical effect, as you know, and history serves up a plethora of ‘done for you’ tools to ease our efforts. I am always amazed when people tell me they never heard of Aesop, yet when I share a few fables, they usually have immediate recall. If you’ve not already discovered it, there is amazing therapeutic magic in Aesop’s Fables, ready for your client’s attention.
Who would have thought that Aesop’s Sun and the North Wind, the Tortoise and the Hare, the Ant and the Grasshopper, or the Fox and Grapes could change your clients’ lives? It happens every day. I have introduced the morals of these more famous of Aesop’s fables to help clients make powerful changes in their life. I love telling stories, both from client successes and drawn from world cultures, as my primary strategy for introducing suggestions. With a good attention-grabbing story, succinctly told, you capture the mind and imagination of the recipient, and as I am sure you already know, it blasts through any resistance to the message it may hold. Aesop (and other storytelling sages of the ages) can telegraph immediate value. In the world of influence and persuasion, what works better that a person taking sage advice from an animal, a tree, a puppet, or another personified object? Go figure. Resistance is considerably lowered, and seemingly magical suggestions are welcomed.
We all know the value of metaphors, similes, and NLP language patterns in helping our clients move forward with their life and adopt new suggestions to help them make a small habit change or to chart a new destiny. We use them every day, and by themselves they each enable or create amazing breakthroughs for those in our care. Combining the techniques only quickens the client’s acceptance and, ultimately, their progress. You could even say that the rapid change work seems magical. Intrinsically, we know stories work, yet we can all better leverage this powerful mind magic. Let Aesop lead the way for your client, and within your practice.
Now, I wonder if you can imagine adding storytelling – your own creations or, even easier, stories handed down through the ages - to your repertoire and help the client to further reach deeper into their own mind. After all, as that great storyteller James Hazlerig says in the foreword to my book, , the mind assigns the meaning to the stories it hears, and that includes the stories we tell ourselves – true (from our view) or otherwise. You see, the beauty of adding familiar stories to your change work, whether from the Bible, from Aesop, passed down through village elders, and those shared across all cultures is that, in many cases your client may recall the story and perhaps already have a meaning assigned, which you can now leverage. Leverage their recalled familiarity and the time-tested Aesop fable. It is like having the world-renowned storyteller present with you for the client sessions – and between sessions as well, easily enabling the client’s mind processes the suggestions!
Imagine Aesop, a seemingly ignorant and grotesque Egyptian slave who lived 2500 years ago, influencing your client’s progress toward the success they seek. Imagine you introducing Aesop’s fables as suggestions to ponder, all without much effort on your part. All it takes is a little confidence, courage, and creativity to get you started. Combine the wisdom of Aesop’s fables with what you already know about Milton Erickson, and you be speaking Ericksonian and Aesopian with your clients!
There is a part of every person who loves to have a good story read to them. It warms the cockles of their heart, much like Nongard’s 3-2-1 anti-anxiety hug. Child or adult, relaxing into that listening experience creates a soothing and safe feeling within. So, why not be brave enough to strengthen that client rapport by adding an easy to tell, “done for you” and proven Aesop’s fables?
The beauty of Aesop’s Fables, like Milton Erickson’s work, lies in the fact they are filled with indirect suggestions, they always ‘meet the client where they are” and the short metaphorical stories create an almost instant induction. The fables teach that we always have a choice to make and that it’s never too late to adopt new strategies and direction. As I explain in , the client always has the option of getting on a better path, and we simply guide them there.
Here’s the hidden magic in the stories of Aesop’s Fables (and all good stories): stories affect us neurologically.

Among the fables I use are:

  • The Hare and the Tortoise: Never give up!
  • The Crow and the Pitcher: There is always a way! Necessity is the mother of invention.
  • The Ant and the Dove: One good turn deserves another!
  • The North Wind and the Sun: Kindness wins people over!
  • Hercules and the Waggoner: The gods help them that help themselves!

  • So, if you are still with me, let me share a few easy-to-implement ideas that will help you affect rapid change. Here are some easy steps to add Aesop’s Fables into your client work:

    You never know if a story’s meaning will take hold immediately, in a week or so, or even several years down the road. After all, they are meant as lessons for life and the meaning will reveal itself. A story that resonates with the client helps to create a new frame, a reframe of their challenges, that helps them more readily move toward the outcome and their courageous progress with more hope, optimism, and confidence than they previously thought possible.
    If I can help an executive “hooked on 12 cans of soda per day” to stop the habit completely by embracing Aesop, I am sure you’ll have success with your clients, too. Of course, I’ve done it all for you in my book, . You can also join the discussion at the Magic of Aesop Facebook group.
    Bob Martel is a professional hypnotist, writer, and commercial hot air balloon pilot. He is the author of The Magic of Aesop, I Am Sleeping Now. Reach him via email at