Do you ever wonder who you might be today if, when you were very young, the adults around you had encouraged you to be authentic with them and yourself? What would life be like if had been acceptable to feel anxious, or cry because we felt we needed to, no matter how annoyed our parents were? Who would we be if we had not felt that we had to put on a ‘face’ that would be acceptable?
The first step in coming into psychological safety is finding someone we can admit our experiences to, whether they are perfectly remembered or not. A place where the Show Starring You As the Perfect Person!! has been cancelled. You know that show? The one where you slide down the moon and into someone’s embrace (or the perfect job) (um, with the perfect body) …and everything is Great?
Who We Really Are
The pain we feel is usually the gap between how we act and how we feel: incongruent. Many of us live in lives that do not encourage us to express, much less know, who we are, deep down in our unacceptable selves. Oftentimes, we do not even know that we are not connected to ourselves, we only know we are not comfortable in our skin, our bodies, our work, our relationships. Or perhaps we are just numb.
Deconstructing What-We-Think-We-Know is a daunting path. But when you see the statistics on depressive disorders, anxiety disorders, substance abuse, eating disorders, divorce; we have to question the construct of the Dream of Happiness.
For now, I only encourage you to wonder: in what does your contentment lie? What are you hiding? If you could change, what would you change? Who are you hiding from and why? Who would you be if you were promised acceptance for how you really are?
Only wonder. Be curious. Don’t sweat the answer. It may not be safe to hear it yet. It will be one day — but while the ego perceives that you could be endangered or disapproved of by changing, it may feel as if you are small and helpless beneath the persona you have worn. We may ask our Jizo-nature within us to provide some grounding so that we are safe to explore. One thing is for sure: curiosity is not going to kill the cat.