Her actions are well intentioned, and she is in fact, wonderful at keeping me safe. But, sometimes she gets in my way.
She’s the one that talks me out of opportunities, worries me out of taking leaps and convinces me that I will fail. Authenticity to her is risky, self-love is arrogant, and being visible is anxiety provoking. Being vulnerable still feels taboo. This side of me learned from childhood to adapt to win approval and reduce friction. She over thinks everything, feels incredibly, and hurts deeply while keeping it all locked inside.
Just when I push through to a new level, step further out of my comfort zone and allow myself to be more visible, that’s when this side of me loves to pay a visit.
Last week I was asked to speak about my work at a local event. I’d been contacted out of the blue as they felt my message resonated theirs. I was ecstatic. Energy and excitement surged through me. Happy! Happy! Happy! Showing up in the world as myself is important to me. How reaffirming it is when opportunities happen as a result of doing just that.
I went for a walk to help generate ideas as I usually do. For a while, ideas were flowing and inspiration felt seamless.
Then I felt it. That pang of fear you feel right in the pit of your stomach like you’ve just heard some bad news. And then, that familiar voice: There she was competing for space.
“What if you’re asked questions you can’t answer?” What if they expect you to know more than you do? They’ll be expecting… You’re hardly an expert yet! You’re too quiet for that kind of audience! What if? What if? What if? WHAT IF YOU FAIL?!!!!! Arrrrrgggghhhhh!
I stopped in my tracks, my ideas shut down, elation left my body and sadness took its place. I spent the next ten minutes angry, resentful and unhappy, with myself.
Fed up and searching for a way to move forward, I remembered the ‘empty chair technique’ I had learned during training. I gave this part of me a seat, asked her what she wants, and simply listened.
“What is it you want to tell me?’
“ I’m scared”.
“What are you scared of?”
“I’m afraid of failing, being misunderstood, and not being accepted”
"What makes you think that?".
"It's happened so often"
“That was a long time ago”.
“I still remember”
“So do I”.
I am soft spoken and I have my own way of being in this world, but I’m certainly not quiet about it anymore. I know there is nothing wrong with me.
“Yes but not everyone else does.”
‘It’s only important that I know”
“What do you need from me?”
“To tell me it’s going to be fine, whatever happens, and to acknowledge I exist.”
“I am me because of you. I appreciate you, and everything is going to be fine. I just need you to trust me.”
"Ok sounds good".
I smile, and continue to walk in the sunshine. I then got home to start writing...
“Each aspect within us needs understanding and compassion. If we are unwilling to give it to ourselves how can we expect the world to give it to us?” ― Debbie Ford
Every part of our whole has its own reason for being and within it, its own strengths, weaknesses and needs. Some may well seem unhelpful, a hindrance and just plain irritating, however real authenticity does not come accepting only the parts of you that you like. Having little battles between our past and present are a normal part of being human. If you have spent quite some time being told and believing, that something was wrong with you, even after you've had that light bulb moment, it's normal to sometimes experience that feeling of 'catching up with yourself'.
I'm learning that embracing who I am, involves acceptance of the protector and all the other multifaceted parts of me. Next time you experience inner conflict, try paying attention to the messages these parts want to give you, give them space to speak, and explore how you can both get your needs met so you can keep moving forward with your life. You can learn so much about yourself from their existence and they are all on your side.