As newborns and children, we learn who we are by the people who raise us. The people who surround us are mirrors in which we see ourselves and learn about who we are. What did you see in your mirrors? What did they teach you and what did you learn about yourself? Whatever it is that we learn during those early formative years is hard to unlearn. It feels like those early lessons were air set and fired in the kiln.
To unlearn those lessons is to shatter the person we have come to believe as ourselves. If we shatter who we know as ourself, then who are we? It feels promising, and scary as hell, to even consider that who know best, doesn’t even exist.
But it is true.
What we have learned about ourselves are the labels and projects of others. They have nothing to do with who we genuinely are, and have everything to do with the expectations, woundings, and insecurities of others.
Who we genuinely are, as I have come to believe, is something much different from other people’s projections. Our gifts are a vessel in which our true selves travel through.
For many of us, our gifts are either ignored, not nurtured, or criticized. Our gift can be bold and obvious (“Wow he really knows how to dance!”) or quiet and subtle (“She always plays with books.”). Regardless of their intensity and obviousness, we all have gifts that need acknowledgement and nurturing in order to feel alive.
I was watching Project Runway last weekend, and contestant/designer Anthony L. Williams said something that stopped me in my tracks. ”Your gifts will truly make room for you.”
I believe that your gifts will lead you back to who you genuinely are. It may take some time and some excavating to see what those gifts are. Some of us never were given the chance to even express our gifts, but if you look at event the seemingly insignificant moments in your life, you can find them.
You can start by asking, “In what moments did I feel pure joy?” Don’t give attention to what may have happened before or after the moment. Just tease out those moments. Go as far back as you can remember and don’t toss out anything that brought you pure joy. What do you notice about those moments? What commonalities are there? Were they moments in which you enjoyed being with others? Were they moments in which you were doing something independently? Were you helping others? Providing something? Creating? Talking? Moving? Thinking? Observing? Doing? Problem Solving? What senses were you using (sight, hearing, touch, smell, taste, kinesthetic, emotion)?
Whatever you find, give it attention. Nurture it and allow yourself to explore ways in which you can incorporate more of it in your life.
Letting go of the old story of who you thought you were can be a scary and daunting task. I myself, am not attempting to do so without the guidance of my therapist. I write down thoughts and feelings and bring them to her at our sessions. I do not want to process this alone.
So in addition to working with her, I am also looking at ways to incorporate those things which bring me joy, and help me reconnect with my genuine self.