As I was sitting, reflecting on nothing in particular this morning, letting the thoughts come and go, allowing them to wash around me, one thought jumped out at me. In fact, it made me jump out of my chair in search of pen and paper to jot down what was in my head.
This is what I wrote “What things in your life have you learned to do very, very well?”
Nothing particularly special about that question, right?
But, this unspectacular question had triggered something and thoughts, memories, ideas were rushing in…
When I was little I learned to do something very, very well.
I learned to keep quiet, instead of speaking up.
I learned very early on that approval from those who mattered to me came from being “good”, not cheeky, lively, boisterous and a bit of a “handful”. I learned that people didn’t like children who were essentially uninhibited.
In fact, I learned that keeping quiet was the best strategy for being accepted.
As I’m writing this, memories are floating by… my first days at school as a timid, tearful 4 year old… whispering in class to my best friend as a 10 year old, being asked what I was talking about by the teacher, telling her that I was explaining how I’d climbed and fallen down a tree the day before and being sent to the back of the class as a result… As a teenager, being late home from school because I’d lost track of time (no mobile phones in those days!) and had no idea how late it was and, in my naiveté, that was exactly what I said, only to be accused of lying…
I learned my “keep quiet instead of speaking up” lesson well.
And, now I’m breaking that habit, I’m unlearning it!
So, what have you learned to do very, very well?
What did you learn to do as a defence mechanism, to protect yourself, to keep yourself safe, to avoid disapproval, to be loved?
What strategies have you put in place?
I bet there are memories coming up as you are reading this…
I’ll leave you with these thoughts…
What do you need to do to unlearn your “play it safe” strategies?
And, what will be different when you do?