I’ve been learning recently that I’m not always so good at receiving gifts of the heart. From others or from “the universe.” The common factor of course is me, the receiver. But how to learn to receive better? Last year I published a book about evolutionary self-development. It’s a good book and it points to a particular slice of our predicament in a unique and telling way. (I think you should all read it. :)) But what I didn’t risk telling all about are the intensely personal concerns that bedevil my own evolutionary self-development.
You know . . . the secret ones!
And why didn’t I go there? And why do I intend to now?
The short answer to the first question doesn’t quite get at the heart-stopping mindwarp that sometimes ensues when I do: fear of rejection and social censure.
I think I left out some of the juiciest parts and I can feel them back there wanting to be spoken. I’d love to share them with you because I suspect that you will recognize many of them as your own. Or some of you will recognize some of them, put it that way. And for those of you who do, it will mean a lot to me because you will recognize something that’s very close to my heart.
What’s funny or at least odd here is that Evolutionary YOU, the book is about how social conformity and censure work below the surface, invisibly and powerfully, to keep us dutifully in line. They’re the brakes, why evolution happens so slowly. As I see it, risking being seen by others, and risking seeing them, is at the core of our personal challenge. It’s the tribal taboo! Just how that works socially and personally is exactly what the book’s about. I thought that in the book I could just tell you all about it, you know, describe it unerringly, and that would be enough. Then you’d know.
But no. Risking being seen isn’t about content or even usual understanding. It’s more about the moment itself, the courage to go for the unknown. I’m talking about risking our truth, what we really care about, but don’t dare say. Content is way overrated, I think. You may remember when “body language” was often spoken of as conveying the bulk of a message, with content coming a distant second. But body language is just the symptom of what I’m pointing to here, which is what’s true for us. Body language just points to it. Each of us recognizes real disclosure when it shows up, every time. We may not feel comfortable with it, or like to admit that we see it, but we recognize it. Just like Dracula recognizes “the cross” even though he hates it!
I used to think that not risking been seen was a secretly shameful thing and I didn’t want anyone to know or draw attention to it. I really thought it was a profound personal failure. Now I’m not so sure it’s a shameful thing at all. I came by my own hiding-need honestly when I was very small. Like many of us, and through nobody’s fault, I didn’t experience the deep bonding and attachment that modern psychology (and a great deal of human learning) has come to see as so central to early development. I’m sure that attachment-lack lies intertwined with a great deal of modern malaise, from ADD to trauma of many kinds. You could say it’s a continuum with all of us on it, just some of us more outliers than others, some much more . Each of us is tasked with growing up past the unfinished business of our childhood into a fuller adulthood . Not by bypassing or indulging the holes in our wholes, and not by bring a victim either. By risking being seen and seeing others.
If I can help you with seeing or being seen, in person, or if anything here is rich for you, schedule a conversation with me online or in person and we can explore it.
Speaking of seeing and being seen, I’d love it if you write to me and tell me anything about it. Forward this on to anyone if you like and if someone sent it to you, you can sign up for follow-ups you can do so here.