…is not forged in the crucible of life. It’s revealed.
Gee, Toto, only 48 days into this book and we keep feeling exposed — why do we keep having to talk about this?
The answer is simple, just not easy. This journey is iterative — gaining clarity on who we’re not helps with clarity on who we are, and vice versa.
Paradoxically, your true identity is your anti-anxiety pill. Most of us feel the opposite. We feel if people saw our true identity, we’d be scrambling for a fig leaf. Fig leaves are as old as Adam & Eve, who hid and covered up because they felt naked and afraid — ashamed. This is what shame does. Shame is a false identity. Shame and fig leaves go together.
Controlled by past scars, fear, and our negative inner voice, shame has the same consequences today. We hide from God, ourselves, and each other — instead of fig leaves we hide behind not-so sophisticated personas which only further undermine our fragile sense of self. Personas for women and men may evolve differently but essentially shame looks the same.
“…shame, for women, is this web of unobtainable, conflicting, competing
expectations about who we are supposed to be. And it’s a straight-jacket.”
— Brene’ Brown, Listening To Shame, TEDS
“The three most destructive words that every man receives when he’s a boy
is when he’s told to ‘be a man’….“
— Joe Ehrmann, A Season of Life, by Jeffrey Marx
Socrates said “know thyself” — not hide from thyself. Scars tell a story about stories that need told, not hidden. In The Lion King, Mufasa has to remind Simba, “remember who you are — you are more than you have become.” With age also comes baggage that clouds identity. In Hook, the Lost Boys of Neverland have to wipe away the corporate facade of grown-up Robin Williams before they can exclaim, “oh, there you are, Peter!” Kids get this. Volunteer for Junior Achievement and you’ll watch 5th graders expressing their identity with inspirational clarity and passion as each creates his/her own personal brand, logo and tagline.
When Michelangelo was asked how he knew his masterpiece was finished, he answered “it’s when everything that wasn’t David was sculpted away.” Ironically, after Michelangelo finished the David — his magnum opus — a shocked Queen Victoria ordered a fig-leaf codpiece plastered onto his masterfully sculpted manhood. As we master our BTL craft, our work is much like Michelangelo’s. Especially when it comes to identity, we are more sculptors than builders. We awaken our client’s inner child to re-discover their manhood/womanhood. challenge them to get more comfortable in their skin, and transform from fig leaves to naked authenticity.
At Friday’s BTL band practice with Jim Gant — American warrior and war hero — we were reminded it can take a moment of surrender to become free to be ourselves.
Time to get out your chisel and do another rinse of your “I ams”, friend. This time, less is more.
Embrace it. Live it. Love it (Thanks, Toto)…