Peering over Dad’s shoulder, I was entranced by his words and hand movements. He held a shoe in his lap, and was teaching my older brother how to tie the laces. I watched and carefully listened to the lesson, to my brother’s attempts to mimic Dad’s motions, and Dad’s continued guidance. My mind buzzed, trying to memorize every detail. After I felt I could do it on my own, I slipped away to find one of my shoes and excitedly followed Dad’s instructions.
Being able to tie my shoes was one of my first secrets, which I kept until what seemed an acceptable time after my brother learned. I don’t recall telling anyone in my family that I learned before him until last year.
It’s a small thing, but I learned this week that it’s part of a significant soul issue, one I am now trying to understand and process. I have discovered a very strong belief that I dare not achieve certain things or else my brothers will feel bad. This is laughable because my brothers are intelligent, talented, and pretty much wonderful. Yet my belief is very real, and very powerful.
No one in my family ever asked me to be silent about my gifts and achievements. No one asked me to play small. Yet I feel a knot in my stomach as I type, and feel anxiety rise because I’m getting too close to this belief: Be Silent, Be Small, Don’t Make Anyone Feel Bad.
Silence as part of mindfulness is a very blessed gift, and it was nice of me as a young girl to be silent and wait my turn in the shoe-tying arena, but believing that I must play small is madness. Yet that’s the thing about beliefs – they operate in the recesses of our psyche, have tremendous impact on how we live our lives and relate to others, and all the while make no sense whatsoever.
I am a work in process, and I have more work to do on this issue. Not by bullying myself into being different (as I used to do), but by compassionately looking within, processing what is at the heart of this belief, and releasing falsehoods.
That’s on my agenda today because I don’t want to be silent or play small anymore.
This was part of the Weekly Writing Challenge: The Sound of Silence. Here are related posts that I hope you’ll check out: