Unlearning Our Programming To Relearn Our Authenticity
My 7-year old son likes to make things. He turns sticks into wands and bubbles into beards; he weaves together books with words and drawings of worlds he dreams up and mashes keys into melodies on his Yamaha keyboard.
He can’t wait to tell me--and anyone else within his proximity--about the things that he makes. In fact, he never fails to ask someone to record his work, with a picture or a video, or preferably, both. Every song he composes has a spot in my video library, and his books are placed on the bookshelf next to the works of Tolstoy and Maya Angelou.
His friends are the same--all anxious to share their creations.
I like to make things too. My medium of choice is writing. I write poems, articles, stories, and sometimes even whole books, like my son. Though, I hesitate before sharing the things I make. It takes a lot to move my writing beyond a private folder on my laptop. I, unlike my son, have years of experiences that have told me, directly or indirectly, that it isn't safe to share the things that I make. More specifically, that others will reject me if I am too much of myself.
Over time I learned to bend and sway with the current of public opinion, bringing to light the aspects of self that received positive affirmation and eroding away the bits that weren't received well by others.
This is, of course, a human ability we all have to mold ourselves to better align with outside expectations. And it's useful. For thousands upon thousands of years, it served as the unifying fabric of tribes, protecting us from the threat of rejection at a time when belonging was essential to survival.
The same instincts that helped us fit in with the tribe also make stepping into our authenticity all the more terrifying. It puts the inner critic on high-alert, causing us to doubt ourselves and our abilities, to look to others to validate us rather than leading with our gut instincts. If we're not careful, we risk prioritizing what others think of us over what we think of ourselves.
This is why transformation is an inside job--the biggest shifts take place when we turn down the volume of public opinion and promote our inner knowing to CEO. And so much of this work is about unlearning--stripping away everything we were taught we needed to be to win the love and approval of those around us.
When we remove these outside layers, what remains is our authenticity--the little self bursting at the seams to share their ideas, eager to hang their stick-figure drawings in gold-plated frames.
Conscious Ink Staffer