This morning as I let the idea of “What Shapes Us” waft around my emotional landscape, my mind kept going to an episode in the original Star Trek series, called “This Side of Paradise” – the crew lands on a planet where inhabitants exist in a mental state of utopia. I wondered, “would we be happier and healthier if our daily baseline feeling was utopia?” I don’t think so.
The colonists in the Star Trek episode are “happy” due to flower spores that fill the air they breathe. Essentially, they are drugged. Their state of utopia isn’t real, it’s induced. The spores they breathe “cover up” their true emotions – everyone becomes the same.
When the colonists are provoked their anger breaks the spore spell. Similar to what happens when humans are pushed to the edge emotionally – we crack the illusion of safety and the light of who we really are begins to seep in. This is something I learned the hard way often feeling “if this was that way, or that was this way, I’d be better.” Nothing changed, until I changed.
One of the most powerful self-inquiry questions a woman (or man) can ask is “what has shaped me?”
November 10th is an important day for me, it’s the day I gave birth to my son. This year on his 29th birthday, my husband and I were far away on a tropical island and even though for my son, our absence on his birthday was no big deal, it was important to me to somehow honor this first day that began the ‘shape of him’.
My husband left to spend the day scuba diving and I spent hours on the beach, walking and then sitting quietly, allowing my mind to meander through 29 years of motherhood – the curves, hills, deep troughs, cliffs and mountain tops that formed not only the shape of my son, but the shape of me.
Breaking the glass ceiling has become a common metaphor. It refers to the external barriers that unfairly blocks women from advancing their careers. This barrier can be unintentional, the cause of unconscious bias and intentional in the form of overt discrimination and “power play.”
Like you, I’m thrilled that “breaking the glass ceiling” and saying “no” to a bias against women (or anyone for that matter) is gaining strength. Women are getting louder, standing stronger and no longer putting up with biases from others, but what about bias towards yourself?
The glass ceiling will not truly break until we…the women…stop with the harsh judgement of self, by identifying our own internal barriers and reorient to living, speaking and being comfortable with confidence and inner strength.
This harsh judgement of self, often the result of social conditioning, creates invisible barriers to success, well-being, happiness, health, confidence and clarity. It is the barrier to breaking your own glass ceiling and sadly, this harsh judgement of self creates an energy of “walk all over me.”
Several years ago, I was on a walk and bumped into a friend who was a marathon runner. I had never seen this man walk anywhere before and soon learned that all the years of running had worn his knee’s out. We chit chatted a bit and then he said something that to this day, has stuck with me – “I didn’t realize how much I missed when running.” He continued, telling me about sites in our small town, that he had not noticed before.
It wasn’t until a few years later when I began to consciously slow down my marathon lifestyle, that his words really hit home. I’m not a runner, but every time I went for a walk, it was for exercise. In fact, everything I did, was about accomplishing something, which meant my body and my mind, were always moving fast (and missing a lot).
I used to think something was wrong with me…my health – why did I get so tired from a day at school, or night out with friends or even when spending time in a crowded shopping mall? I even labeled myself as intolerant because certain people left me feeling mentally and physically exhausted. Again, what’s wrong with me?
A few years ago, I came across a documentary by Dr. Elain Aron about highly sensitive people which spun that statement “you’re too sensitive” right around!