The Whole Story | Chapter One
I grew up in Westford, Massachusetts, a quiet colonial town just south of the New Hampshire border. It is a normal kind of place, suburban and low key in that charming New England way. It was a wonderful place to grow up and I am so grateful that my parents settled here over thirty years ago.
As a child, I was timid and shy around new people, constantly observing my surroundings and looking for a way to fit in. I was always nervous and I worried that I would do or say the wrong thing, or get made fun of. And of course this inevitably happened, as it does to every child, almost as a rite of passage. I remember I would get butterflies in my tummy before swimming lessons at summer camp or on the way to a friend’s birthday party. I would feel my heart racing inside my little chest as the bus pulled in to the beach parking lot, or as we pulled into the driveway with the balloons on the mailbox. I never really thought anything of it until I recently made a powerful connection.
The problem for me, back then, was that I never knew what to expect, and that was terrifying! I would get so worked up, nervous, and anxious because I didn’t know what to expect. So I learned to overcompensate by envisioning events, and the future, in a way that felt good for me. It made me feel safe and took the anxiety right out of the situation. I was sometimes frustrated by these "visions" but now I appreciate this trait as part of my personality and I actually see it as a strength now. And by distancing myself from these expectations that I draw up in my mind, I have found that I actually enjoy the present moment so much more.
Our personalities develop when we are young as a defense mechanism to protect us from the threats and bad feelings coming from the outside world. So for me, what developed was a futuristic orientation and learner inclination. I was always so nervous that I learned to overcompensate and protect myself from this feeling by conjuring up images and expectations in my head that made me feel safe. I was shy and timid and often observed as a child which allowed plenty of space for natural learning to take place. These are wonderful traits to be blessed with. I am so excited and motivated by what I see in my future though, that sometimes it is hard to come back down to the real world and remember to be taking action every day to get there.
When I realized how my experiences as a child influenced my personality, so many things clicked for me. I was able to understand and learn to love why I am this way. And, now that I have this self-awareness, I am going back into my memories and taking a closer look at the situations that have shaped who I am. In doing this, I can feel a healing happening and I can see how my current self is getting more and more aligned with my truest self.
Getting to know my personality, and more importantly how it developed, has been so beautifully eye-opening and humbling. The Lauren that I remember in my memories is still the Lauren that is standing here today. I have the same skin, the same eyes, the same bones, the same heart. What’s changed, though, is how I relate to the outside world and how the outside world has influenced my thoughts and actions. The energy that I put out into the world is expressed in my personality. And what I express comes back to me stronger. You can control what you express and how you react to what is expressed back to you. You cannot, however, control how others respond to your energy and their subsequent actions. That's another important lesson I learned later in life. If you think I'm crazy, try it for yourself! Smile more, say hello or good morning to people you work with, hold the door for someone, or look them in the eye and say thank you when it's held for you. Spend some time connecting with yourself, connecting with the people in your day to day experience of life, and you will feel a shift in your mindset and your attitude.
What would happen if we reconnected to our memories and our past in this way? Would we learn to love our strangest or most unique qualities? Would we feel more connected to the events and relationships that have shaped who we are? Would we be more cognizant of the kinds of stories we tell ourselves, and figure out which ones to let go of? Understanding and accepting your personality as it is today is a beautiful way to start. Recognizing and sending love to what needs to change happens next.