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Let that Sh*t Go

Which qualities of yours no longer serve you? Were you picked on in school, so you had to become detached in order to shield yourself? But now that you're an adult, being detached keeps you from having healthy personal relationships? Maybe you were popular in school, so you developed an overcompensating modesty so people wouldn't think you were full of yourself, but now that you're an adult, that modesty is keeping you from promoting yourself and moving up in your career.

These qualities served us in some way, otherwise we wouldn't have kept them. And a lot of the time we probably think, at least subconsciously, that they still offer us some sort of protection today.

I have a friend who learned as a child that it was easiest to let everyone else have their way. The problem is that today she's an adult and she surrenders her desires for the happiness of other people. She doesn't do the things she wants to, she puts herself in situations that don't make her happy, and she resents those people for "doing" this to her.

I have another friend who, as a child, was shown that she wasn't allowed to have sad or angry feelings. Her feelings weren't validated or valued, and she was "wrong" for having them. Today, she keeps her feelings locked up inside, resenting those around her who "gave" her those feelings, until she blows up about something insignificant, causing rifts in her relationships.

I have another friend who was the oldest of 4 children, and the pride and joy of his parents. He was expected, beyond any of his siblings, to be the success in the family, as he already had academic and athletic talent. While his siblings floundered in school and in their personal lives, he got a masters degree, got married, had perfect children, and today runs his life wound tightly, unforgivingly, constantly-striving, and always-achieving. He's tired, And so are those who are close to him.

Some of these qualities may help you creatively. (I mean, there's probably a number of movies and books that never would have been written if the writer wasn't actively drinking and doing drugs.) But more likely than not, these qualities are hurting you, taking the joy from your life, and taking the creativity from your soul. If you're interested in making other people happy at the expense of your own happiness, you will probably prioritize their schedules over pursuing your own goals. If you bottle up your feelings because you feel like you're not allowed to have them, then you're probably creating a blockage in your creative stream. And if you are constantly trying to achieve and succeed, then you will probably be focused more on making money than making art.

So how do we just turn off these qualities which create obstacles in our path? Do we just say, "I don't want to be like this anymore?" and it's done? Probably not. We have been conditioned (or we have conditioned ourselves) to live and breathe this way. And we now have to un-condition that habitual way of being.

I'm no cognitive behavioral therapist, but I know enough to know that acknowledgment is the first step. Notice yourself relying on your old ways, your crutches of personality. Notice when you're letting people always have their way, or you're being overly modest, or you're striving for perfection all the time.

Besides, that crutch is giving you a major rash in your armpit. Let that shit go.

Caroline offers 1-on-1 coaching and group workshops for writers and creators in NYC and online everywhere.

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