I’ve been TOO BIG my whole life. I’m not speaking of my physical size, but rather the magnitude of my personality; exuberant, happy, outgoing, love to laugh, emotional, excitable. Big. That is my Essential Self, the Who. I. Am. deep down without any influence from others. Some people get really uncomfortable around BIG people. They begin to feel as though they are falling in someone’s shadow or being thrust into a limelight they aren't comfortable with. They feel jealous because they "aren’t big" themselves. Maybe you’ve experienced this. Has anyone ever said to you, “don’t be too big for your britches?” or shut you down when you're simply being yourself? I can remember several instances over the course of my life of being shut down by people when I was in my full joy and being too big for someone else. One such instance happened when I was in high school and I was eating lunch with one of my best friends. We were outside, standing among 300 people, and I was laughing out loud and having a wonderful time. My friend got really upset and snarled at me under her breath, “Stop it, Laurie. People are looking.” I remember saying, “Who cares? Let them look.” But I received the message loud and clear. Be small. Blend in. Don’t be big. It’s not safe. You’ll just get shut down. Message received. ‘Blend in’ was the lesson I learned in my childhood home as well. Growing up in an alcoholic home I found that it felt safer to blend in and not make waves. After all, you never knew which version of dad was going to come walking through the front door at the end of the day. Perhaps this is why my Essential Self would cut loose when I was out of the house, and come bubbling forth right out of me. I needed to be seen. I needed to be heard.
Who is Driving the Bus?
We’ve all got an Essential Self, some of ours' are hidden more deeply than others’. We also have another part of us called the Social Self. This is the part of us that says we “have to” fit in socially. We have to be polite. We have to like our relatives (that we secretly hate). We have to be thin, drink green smoothies, be environmentally conscious, and on and on and on. We put other people's ideas of what's right in charge of our lives. Even if we hate those things. Even if they make our bodies cringe into a tight ball just thinking about them. (I’m looking at you ‘environmentally conscious.’) So, I'm going to encourage you to find the things that light you up and give you that joyful feeling inside. Sometimes it can be like you're playing a game of “You’re getting warmer, you’re getting colder” until you figure out. Pay attention and notice when your Social Self is trying to run your life and see if you can find ways to put him/her in the back seat for a bit. Is there an Essential-Self-Way that could work as well (or better) than the Social-Self-Way? Or is there the possibility of an “and” solution? I had a client recently that said that she likes to read in bed in the morning, but she also feels better if she gets up and walks. Most days the books in bed were winning and she was feeling bad about that. I suggested that there might be a way to combine those two things, perhaps with a book on tape during the walk. “I've never thought of that!” Right, because reading and walking at the same time seemed like mutually exclusive things. But because we found a way to combine them, her Essential Self is going to have a party in the mornings now, by nourishing her mind and body at the same time.
Let Your Essential Self Shine
Figuring out a way to let your Essential Self shine when others (or even ourselves) are trying to dull it is key. Noticing when it is happening is the first and most important step. You can't do something about it if you don't notice it's happening. And then, instead of taking what “everyone” says and making it your truth, figure out what is really your truth and remind yourself that your Essential Self wants what it wants. It’s a way of living authentically. It’s a way of living in harmony with ourselves. If we are blending in and playing small, then we're doing a disservice to ourselves and others. We are negating the part of ourselves that IS TRUE. A piece of us breaks off and we have to work like hell to get it back. So, I’ve decided that I want to spend time with people that allow me to be me, that allow me to shine and want me to be BIG. Those are my people. And the rest? Well, when they’re ready for BIG me, they know where to find me. This is my first step. Being around people with whom it's okay to be myself. In this safe environment I'm rediscovering that bit of me that has been hiding in the shadows all these years. It's a process and there may be setbacks, but it feels like it's time for me to be seen and share my gifts with the world. Please feel free to share in the comments below any thoughts you have about the Essential Self. If you want to talk about the things that light up your Essential Self, I’d love to hear.