Don’t stand out. Blend in. Don’t draw attention to yourself. Don’t make a fuss. Children should be seen and not heard. Don’t talk unless you are spoken to. Play it safe. Don’t do that, it’s risky. You might get hurt.
Voices of childhood still echo in my mind today and make me cringe a little at just how long I listened to them, even as an adult who could recognise them for what they were. To be fair, they were the voices of people who had only my safety and best interests at heart. They loved me implicitly. They were in a sense, ancestral voices rather than their own.
From a young age, I was torn. Torn between wanting to follow the voices, and the pull deep within that told me that I was capable of more, that I had something to say and that I should shout it out for all to hear. It was a constant tug-o-war. But, I was a child, and the desire for love and approval won out. So, I went about making myself invisible…. only, I wasn’t!
But, this struggle was not a hidden one, concealed within the confines of my mind. An outsider, who took even a cursory look at my life could easily identify the pattern. For the most part, an observer would describe me as being quiet, introverted, unassuming and invisible. My life was not extraordinary, in fact it was very ordinary. I went through school (largely unnoticed), enrolled in a university degree that would offer me a secure and stable life (not very inspiring!) But, then there were obvious disruptions in the transmission - things that I created and accomplished in my life that seemed out of place, perhaps even surprising, or dare I say it, ‘extraordinary’. These achievements were not isolated to one arena or pursuit but were very diverse in nature. Then, Fear would take over and I would retreat once more, in an attempt to blend in, and avoid attention. I now see that these ‘anomalies’ were the result of that deep knowing. The greatness that lies within that can only stay contained for so long before it craves expression.
I was indeed capable of so much more, if only I stopped hiding and had the courage to allow myself to shine and be who I AM and was born to be. I am not special - this innate greatness resides in all of us. We are part of something much greater - the infinite. The truth is, this deep knowing, this greatness cannot and will not allow itself to be buried forever. It will always crave expression. It must be heard, no matter how hard Fear tries to drown it out and occupy every waking thought we have or how hard we try to ignore it.
The idea of writing an article based on my experiences and my truth terrifies me - let’s just get that out there. Why? Well, those same voices from childhood challenge me, even today:
Who do you think you are?
What could you possibly have to offer?
Fear tells me I am nobody and that I have little of value to offer. Greatness tells me I am powerful beyond comprehension and that I possess infinite wisdom. So why do so many of us allow Fear to be our trusted counsel? Why do so many of us listen to those voices, instead of that deep knowing, that speaks only in whispers? There is no definitive answer to this question - the response is a highly personal one and is dependent on our experiences, perceptions, values and beliefs that are all part of our childhood programs.
In my case, being invisible or playing it small as a child kept me safe and was completely understandable - the brain is hardwired for survival and to avoid pain, But, I am no longer a child and I am no longer vulnerable and in need of protection. As an adult, playing it small only serves to give me a set of excuses - an easy option, an out. It gives me a narrative that I can replay justifying my inaction and lack of authenticity to myself and others. It is a lie! But, it is a lie that we willingly accept from ourselves and others,
As we get older, I believe that it becomes harder to live with the lie. The whisper of Greatness becomes more insistent and we are more receptive, or will at least humour Greatness by listening for a little longer than we did in our youth. If we continue to ignore the whisper, we experience a restlessness, a discontent that we cannot escape. Society loves labels and this internal restlessness is often dismissed with a wry smile and a vague reference to a ‘midlife crisis’ in an attempt to minimise its significance.
But, if we listen … if we have the courage to sack Fear as our trusted counsel (let it sit on the bench from now on) and promote Greatness as our constant companion, our lives undergo an irreversible transformation. When we stand in and live from our ultimate truth, we experience freedom. We step away from the limitations of Fear. We become immune to perceived judgement and opinions of others. We can breathe. We can simpsx sujjjvzcly be.
In this state, the world is one of endless possibilities and opportunities. We can take the dreams we shelved long ago, at Fear’s insistence, from the shelf, blow off the dust and manifest them. Now, if Fear has not yet taken its rightful place on the bench, the above statement may seem like a gross over-simplification. Really? Just like that? What about X, Y, Z (insert your narrative here)? BUT it really is that simple. When you are free from the voices that characterised your childhood and much of your adulthood, what is there that is holding you back? If you live from a state of gratitude, joy, awe, wonder and are open to opportunities that are presented to you, there is no dream that is not within your reach. There are no barriers - if you perceive barriers that are not there, you have simply allowed Fear to make an appearance.
What are you passionate about? What makes your heart sing? What brings you joy? What is it that when you do it, time stands still? Whatever it is - go and do that!
Those childhood voices that governed my life for so many years are not gone. Fear has not gone anywhere, they will always be there. They make an appearance every now and then, but I no longer listen to them. I acknowledge them, love them and express gratitude for the part they played in my life and ask them to take a seat.
Voices of Greatness now echo in my head and I smile in recognition: Greatness is liberating and when we embrace our own Greatness, we give permission for others to do the same. What a precious gift to ourselves, others and society.
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