This is the first of a series of monthly articles that will appear in the Aikido Network News Letter. These articles will focus on self-growth, your self-growth.
If you have found your passion and you believe that you are being who you think you were meant to be; that you’re on your life’s path to self-fulfillment, then these articles will probably hold little for you. However, if the answers are “yes” to many of the following questions then you may find them of interest.
Do you often wonder who you really are? Do you experience an emptiness deep inside that has never been fulfilled? Do you believe that you have a purpose in life but have been unable to discover it? Do you feel that you are not being who you are meant to be; that you became someone other than your “true-self”? Do you not know where to start to discover who your “true-self” really is? Have you never found the one thing about which you could become passionate?
First, we need to begin by briefly defining a concept that I will call your “true-self”, a term that I use to describe or represent the individual whom you are striving to become. You could view the beginnings of your true-self as genetic predispositions or temperaments that are present at birth. If these are valued and reinforced by the significant others in your young life, then they will develop naturally over time into your true-self. However, if these basic temperaments are responded to in a negative fashion, then you will grow to believe that they are bad and you will repress them in favor of behavior, attitudes, values, etc. that draw respect and a feeling of belonging from important others in your environment.
I think we’ve all experienced this. For instance, you might have been acting free, just “being yourself” and others make fun of you in one manner or another. The result likely will be that you feel humiliated and may berate yourself for behaving that way and you promise yourself that you’ll never do that again. Or, you were super excited about something you found outside and in your excitement you run inside to share with a parent, and for whatever reason, that parent hollers at you not to slam the door and to be quiet. You can see that from that time on, you might suppress that carefree part of you and thus lose that wonderful magical spontaneous way of reacting. In other words, you have in some way just stopped being your true-self.
Now, if you take that principle back to very early childhood, you can imagine how this would result in you not just suppressing a part of you, but virtually the “whole you”. Let’s use a simplified example. Suppose you have parents who are sensitive to others’ reaction to them, who are what one could call “people people”. They would value positive interactions with others over and above all else. Now, let’s further suppose that they have a very young male child whose temperament is just the opposite. This child is a doer. He does not need nor want a lot of hugging and attention. He is most satisfied playing by himself. Now the people-oriented parents obviously want much more interactions with their child that the child initiates. So, when they pick him up and disturb him, he may arch his back and scream until they put him down. This negative interaction could easily result in the parents becoming angry with the child and even in punishing him for his “tantrums”. As time goes by, the child, because of the extremely negative reaction from his parents, becomes more like them to please them and receive a more pleasant reaction from his parents. Such a scenario demands that the child suppresses a lot, if not all, of his true-self.
I offer three examples of individuals whom I believe have found their true-selves would help to further clarify this concept. The first person is Einstein, one of the greatest, if not the greatest, scientist that ever lived. He expanded out knowledge of space-time. His theories are responsible for many of our modern conveniences, such as automatic door openers and TV remotes. Once, when waiting for a train (I believe), he was approached by another to-be passenger. This person told Einstein who much she admired him and how amazed at how much he knew about his field. Einstein replied, something like, “If you thought about a topic 15 hours a day, seven days a week, you too would become an expert on that topic”. Einstein did indeed eat, breath, and live, physics.
The second individual I present to you is Jacque Payet, Shihan. Any of you who watched and worked with this amazing man would have clearly seen one who has found his path, who is truly being his true-self. He did not pretend to be an expert in the practice of Aikido, he WAS one.
The third person I will mention as one who is being his true-self is our own Sensei Derek Binder. I have come to know him over the past 7 years. He is another who eats, breathes, and lives his passion, which for him is Aikido.
So, in essence, if you are not passionate (that is think about it most of your waking hours and really get tremendous satisfaction) about what you are doing, then you probably are not being your true-self but rather being someone programmed to act from a place of fear. I hope that helps to clarify the notion of one’s true-self, and how you might not be truly even close to being yourself, as defined above.
That’s all for this month – to be continued next month. If you have any questions or would like to chat about your self-growth, please do not hesitate to contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.