We’ve all heard the stories…we may even have our own story of starting out toward a goal, learning something new, then giving up early on in the process because of obstacles and monkey wrenches thrown in. We all have our great “reasons” for not pursuing those dreams. That’s because it felt so darn real, and we then made defining moments out of them. But why oh why did we do that?
It Is Typical and Understandable. Our brain is wired for survival, and therefore being afraid indicates there could be a threat to our psychological safety. So, when we think things could go wrong, especially if they went wrong the first time, we usually only touch a hot stove once…meaning our ego cannot take another blow. Or so we think. I have heard thousands of stories from clients who “tried that one time” when they were young, and having been traumatized by a undesired outcome, it was better to play it safe than risk failing again.
This Usually Happens When You are Young and Vulnerable. It is often when we are young when we first try out for sports, band, choir, or the school play. Our academic abilities are also on display to be critiqued. Since we are young and don’t have years of experience and wisdom, we tend to take in what others think as gospel, and then play that out.
Family Sibling Dysfunction. Your siblings (or cousins or best friends if you were and only) were your first and most important peers, and you needed their mirroring and approval. If family dysfunction made it hard for them to get emotional needs met, they would tend to then fight you for parental love by emotionally trying to make you feel inferior. This could have very well distorted your sense of self, sense of abilities, and worse made you feel unearned guilt for being talented or funny, etc.
Of course you may have your own story of what happened over the years. But what’s important to think about is what if those awful scenarios hadn’t played out? What if you received encouragement, support and guidance to really use your gifts and go after your dreams? Take a few moments right now and imagine the amazing possibilities…and grieve through the resulting regret and sadness that may arise. Maybe even some healthy anger to start. That’s normal and a good thing to do.
We cannot go back and undo what did or didn’t happen. What we can do is take a hard look at some of the distorted beliefs about yourself that you formed as a result of all of those experiences. What do you want to heal today? What would you love to have a chance to Do Over today and why?
I hope you find a way to make it different today, because you will feel so much more grounded and fulfilled. I also hope you become even more conscious of how encouraging you are to a child you interact with, as I spoke about the need for support last week. We are all raising the children. Everyone’s children, as we were everyone’s child back then.