“To reach a port we must sail, sometimes with the wind, and sometimes against it. But we must not drift or lie at anchor.”-Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
“And it’s hard to dance with a devil on your back, so shake him off, oh whoa.”-Florence and The Machine, “Shake It Out”
Nature or Nurture? I’m sure you’ve heard of that argument before. Here’s a quick rundown: there is one school of thought that who we are is primarily due to the nature of our lives. We are a combination of genes, genotypes, xenotypes and phenotypes. Who we are is written in our DNA. The nurture end of the spectrum is the belief that when we are born we are basically a “blank slate” a void, a vacuum, and by our interactions with our parents and our environments, who we takes shape. Nature says who we are is, in essence, “pre-ordained.” Nurture says who we are is created as we go through life.
There is definitely a lot of in-between stances as well (Billy Joel’s deep track, I Go Extremes, just popped into my head), and I myself subscribe to a “bit of each” philosophy.
I do believe that a lot of our issues/hurdles/challenges/messed-up-ness comes from our parents and siblings. I was the youngest, so I know the havoc that siblings can bring (and the joy, there is a lot of that too, just in case they are reading too ;). I also believe that a lot of our troubles/strife/wack-a-doodle-weirdness comes from our very own selves. We take some of what our nature gave us, mix it with how we choose to react to situations in life and a personality is made (and re-made over and over again).
The problem here is that we can’t just point to one cause as the root of all issues. I know that no one wants to admit they have issues, but you show me a person over the age of 13 without any issues and I will show you the way out of town for being a big fat liar. It would be so liberating to be able to say “All the troubles in my life are due to the way cousin Matilda picked on me as a child.” Or to say “My parents are the entire reason that I have not achieved my dreams of leaving the house for the first time in 8 months.” I mean, we can say those things, but we also know that those statements smell like bull-pucky, and we all know the importance of fresh-breath.
Even more important is the fact that regardless of where these gigantic weights we carry around with us come from, is that it is up to us to drop the weight so we can move more nimbly toward our passion-filled future (maybe I should have titled this chapter “I’m going to use lots of hyphens here”). If we can stop throwing stones with our feet firmly planted in the Nature or Nurture (or variations in-between) side of the battlefield, we can stop to realize that no matter where we are planted, the stones keep coming. We have a life-time supply of heavy things to hold us back if we continue to allow them to.
We need to take inventory of our weights. We can look see where they came from, definitely, because that is part of the process of getting rid of them. However, to some extent, it doesn’t matter what created the cancer, our job is to begin treatment. Take inventory of what weighs on you. Seriously. Sit in some quiet time with a pen and a paper, or a giant notebook if needed. Write down what you feel is keeping your butt firmly in place. Fear? Inadequacy? Comparison? Guilt? Those shoes you insist on wearing? Write them all down. We will delve into erasing some of these in this book, but I am sure there are some we won’t touch here. The fact of the matter is, YOU need to figure out YOUR anchors, bring them to light and get to work on dropping them from your ship. I also don’t want you to think that this is a one-time thing. You are not going to face a large demon from your past, bring it to light, and cut it free forever on the first try. Many of our anchors will never truly be left behind. We can get better and better and better at facing them each time they come up, and we can soften their ramifications with each visit.
Sometimes, letting go of our anchors will be harder than we think. Sometimes we have had these anchors on our shoulder for such a long time, they have become comforting companions. We may hate the things that damn parrot says, but we still want to lug him around with us on our sailing excursions. Change is always uncomfortable, even when we are shedding negative things from our lives. So be prepared. Know that working on removing things from our lives is not going to be easy, and it may due to our perceived “need” for the negativity. There is nothing wrong with that. Let’s just get to work on finding what is holding us back so we can move on to the all-important work of shedding the weight and setting sail.