Sitting here thinking about all the aspects of being connected and our productivity, I had a moment of being overwhelmed with the enormity of this subject. I will do my best to keep it to one post but it’s going to be long! J
When we lock away parts of ourselves because we think they are unacceptable, we don’t just lock away the negative parts. We lock away some good parts, too. This is true for our emotions and our productivity. I’m using the word productivity to encompass the doing part of people. We feel, we think and we do. The “do” part includes our connections with people, involvement in activities and work.
When I was young I shut away the parts of me I thought weren’t perfect (read the previous post “Moving from Disconnected to Vulnerable”). When I was in 7th grade I discovered I could act and sing. I thoroughly enjoyed being on stage. It was gratifying to me to see that I could make people smile. As I got older, the acting world got harder. I wasn’t comfortable taking risks. It was as if the perfect part of me wouldn’t let me. In the acting world, a person has to take risks; she must put everything she has into a role or it won’t be believable. I did not see this back then but as I look at all the pieces of the puzzle from this vantage point, I can see it clearly.
When I started looking at colleges, I knew I wanted to attend a school that would further my acting career. My parents weren’t excited about my desire to enter the world of theater. I interpreted this as displeasure with me. I dropped the idea immediately and chose instead to go to the college my mom attended. I wanted to make her proud of me; I wanted her to accept me. Since the acting part of me wasn’t acceptable, I put that part away.
As with my emotions, I wasn’t aware I did this. It just happened. As I think about it now, I remember having no idea what I would major in. I chose psychology because the classes fascinated me, but I never felt truly settled. Part of me wanted to be in business, part wanted to be a teacher, part wanted to be a doctor, part of me wanted to be a child psychologist and part of me didn’t want to do anything. I was very confused. When we aren’t connected, when we shove parts of ourselves away, it is very difficult to choose the right fit. The parts of us that are put away aren’t really gone, they are just in hiding. When dissatisfaction bubbles to the surface it might be a result of the part put in hiding. It’s trying to get out, to tell us that we’re working with an incomplete set of skills, interests and desires; there are other valuable parts with lots of duct tape on them to shut them up. Eventually the duct tape starts to loosen, and we start hearing those hidden parts. I’m not saying this is always the reason for dissatisfaction with the doing part of our life, but it might be.
Are there parts of you in hiding? Think about your life. Do you have an underlying belief that parts of you aren’t acceptable? I’m not talking about the parts that want to hurt people or destroy things. Those parts need restraints. I’m talking about the truest parts of who you are. The parts, that if no one would judge, you would feel safe to let out: your creative self, your intellectual self, your playful self, your inquisitive self, your free self… Journal about all of this; sometimes when we write things down, then go back and read the words, we get some clarity.
Think about your young self, way back before too much hurt had been heaped on you and before you shut parts of yourself away. That’s a hard task for me because I think some of the hurt started pretty early. I love, love, love my parents. I am thankful for them, but they were not perfect. I have some scars from things they did or didn’t do. It wasn’t intentional. They didn’t set out to hurt me, but in their humanity they did. Do your best to remember the uninhibited you. That might help you get a sense of who you really are. Think about the things you really enjoy and why you enjoy them. You may find activities you thought you enjoyed but when you give them some thought you realize you only do them because you think others will accept you. Perhaps you will re-engage with a part of yourself you put away because you thought you had to in order to find acceptance. Be gentle with yourself and others as you go on this journey. You may have to go through a time of mourning as you grieve the past. Eventually, as you heal from the grief over lost years and lost parts you can begin to celebrate the awareness you now have and the opportunities that await the connected you. Take your time with all of this; it’s not an overnight task.
Some can process through this all on their own with the help of trusted friends. Some will need the guidance of a trained counselor/therapist or coach. If this stirred something within you, I encourage you to get the help you need. I used all of the above in my journey and I am incredibly thankful. I might be messy, but all of me is present. J