The Origin of the Challenge of Self-Expression

Baby boy with paint brush rear view standing near blank white waPicture yourself at three years old. Your heart is still mostly wide open. You are filled with a need to express yourself creatively and with tremendous love. Your eyes fall on some colorful paints and you are giddy with delight. There are not even words for the excitement that is racing through your entire being.

You greedily grab the paints and start on the biggest, cleanest surface you can find. You are going to paint the most beautiful picture your mom has ever seen. You are going to express your love for her in the biggest way imaginable. You become deeply immersed in your project of love. You are delighted with yourself and your creation. You don’t even know that you are smiling as you paint; you just feel pure love and overwhelming energy poring forth from your innermost being.

Your mother walks in the room. You light up even more. Your undeveloped brain does not quite put words to this, but you feel how much you love and want to convey this love. Then your world comes crashing down.

Your mother is horrified. She starts screaming as she is coming toward you. She comes so fast that you don’t have time to register that you are in danger. Then SMACK and you have just learned your first in many lessons. It is dangerous to love. It is even more dangerous to create and express love. You don’t understand.

How could you? You are three. But, in the very core of your being there is a new knowing. To express love equals getting hit. You may not even remember the exact incident as you grow up, but the core of you KNOWS not to love quite that deeply ever again. The joyful creative spirit is pushed underground so that you are safe. You are confused about what you did wrong and assume it is you who are wrong, because your mom is your entire universe and she could not possibly be the one who made a mistake.

Now you live into some new beliefs. Not “I made a mistake” but “I am a mistake.” And, it’s not safe to express love.” These are not words that you say to yourself; they are now part of your being, of who you are. Because it is too painful to feel, this core is then frozen over.

As you grow up more similar experiences come into your life which reinforce this deep belief. You gather more proof. After a few failed relationships, you don’t even try any more. The three-year-old in you has sabotaged all of your interactions, especially those that could be of love.

Go back and retrieve your little one. Assure that child who is still running your life that you (the adult in you) can take over now. Remind yourself that it is safe to love after all. You may get disappointed, but you can handle that now. Allow the creative, delightful joy to flow again and know, deep within, that this expression is welcome.

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