Sometimes I’m amazed at new insights about myself, especially at my age.
One I just discovered was so deeply rooted, I thought it was just my personality.
This pattern’s motive is for one single use—the holy grail of psychological mechanisms: self-protection.
Here it is: if I am quiet and shut down around someone or in an environment—it is because for one reason or another- I do not feel safe.
I am not shut down and quiet because I am:
a) an introvert
I am shut down and quiet because actually…….
I LOVE MYSELF. I CARE ABOUT MYSELF.
What I needed in order to see this pattern: to—finally—be with people who, and in environments that, create a sense of safety and worthiness.
When I was a little girl, I was just quiet. I kept to myself. The more quiet and to myself, the more isolated and therefore, weird I thought I was. But, recently when I noticed myself being shut down and quiet around certain people, I also noticed the story I was telling about myself: you’re weird and everyone thinks you’re weird. And then the berating: what is wrong with you? Why can’t you just talk to people? Do you think you are better than they are…? (Well, I mean yes, sometimes I do).
But— a stream of high-level consciousness broke through. I connected this adult moment in real time with my child self. I saw my child self do exactly what grown up self is doing and realized: I AM NOT WEIRD. I may not even be an introvert. My little kid self who shut down to stay safe did so because she loved her self.
“It is in the homes and in childhood that the wreckage of human life begins.”
This week, and quite honestly from now on, consider your personality traits, that you think you are just stuck with or maybe even like, could be deeply ingrained self-protective mechanisms. For many of us, in our childhoods, conditions were harsh. These harsh conditions showed up in our childhood homes, in the schools we attended and in the world we lived in. Harsh doesn’t have to mean abuse. It can just mean unkind or not hospitable to the souls and spirits that we are.
To protect ourselves from harshness our wisdom created mechanisms to keep us safe and protected. Mine was to shut down. What was/is yours?
Once you discover it, pay attention to it. Where does it show up? Consider why. Do you have to hang on to it to keep you safe or can you start to let it go? Could it be that you are more than what you think your personality is? Now that you are a grown up, is it possible to be safe even when around unsafe people?
Finding our self-protective patterns can be a tedious task. And some are buried more deeply than others. I am 47, and just discovered my deeply ingrained pattern. But you know, now that I have, I feel lighter. I feel freer. I feel more myself. And, I know I have worked to build or perhaps, uncover, the foundation within myself— a foundation I stand safely on— even in the harshest conditions.
As usual, reach out if needed. I am here to hold space for your stories, your challenges, your process.
~The Soul Reporter