As young children, we learn to avoid uncomfortable emotions. To pretend that everything is OK. We have been conditioned to suppress pain. Remember all those moments when our parents tried to soothe us by saying, "Don't cry. It's OK"? This tells us that such emotions aren't OK, that we should shove them under the rug.
When you were born, you were like a huge, crisp white sheet of paper. You were smooth. You were expansive. You were full of possibility. And then life happens. You were told to stop crying. And part of you crumpled up. You were bullied in school. Crumple. Your parents divorced. Crumple.
Before too long, you look nothing like that pristine sheet of paper. You are just a crumpled-up little ball, where you once felt like spreading your arms and shouting to the world "THIS IS ME!"
When we try to squeeze ourselves into a persona, we suppress all the parts of ourselves that don't fit into that character.
To be the good boy, you've got to suppress your anger. To be the funny one, you've got to quiet the smart and serious side of you. To be the angry girl, you've got to squash down your joy. You've got to continue to find things to be angry about.
What aspects have you suppressed your entire life? Your sexuality? Your creativity? Your anger? Your sadness?
In the process of holding onto your persona, you suppress the naturalness of your being. You spend so much energy trying to be proper, keep it together, fit in, look good, be liked, be appropriate, and not say the wrong thing that you end up feeling as if you are holding your breath. You don't want to move. It's like when you need to yawn but feel as if you shouldn't yawn. So you go through life holding back. Holding back the natural impulse to be who you truly are.
To be truly powerful requires that you get in touch with the entire range of yourself. All aspects of yourself. All shades of the rainbow of your being, not just a few colors.
Whether you've gone through life as the shy one, the life of the party, the damsel in distress, or the drama queen, recognize that there is more to who you are. Those personas are just patterns of conditioning that you learned to follow in order to survive. The strategy may have worked for you when you were 5 or 10 or 15, when you lived in the shadow of your parents and were desperate for acceptance and love.
But now you are an adult. Take a look at what persona you think has been "working" for you all these years. It is NOT who you are.
To start to break the grip of your conditioning is to be aware of your conditioning. The more you can be conscious and aware of your personas, the less you have to be ruled by them. When you live within a persona, you no longer have a range in how you respond to life. There is no creativity, no exploration. There is just a set way of being. And even when the music changes, you still have just five dance moves. Reggae? Mozart? Hip-hop? Jazz? It doesn't matter. You've got only five steps.
Listen, we don't always get to choose the music that gets played in our lives. It's not always going to be Mozart; it's not always going to be beautiful. But if you are stuck in five steps, you are always doing the same dance. The freer you are, the more you are able to spontaneously meet the moment with the right action. But when you are trapped in your persona, you can only sway awkwardly to the music, feeling confined, like you are out of sync, but you don't have any other options. You are unable to improvise.
Why do you think people go out and drink to have a good time? Because it allows them to loosen the ties of their persona for a brief moment. To get a taste of freedom. Yet it doesn't last. The moment is fleeting. So they have to go out and drink again and again and again.
But when you shed your persona, you realize that there are infinite possibilities for improvisation. There is so much more to who you are. There is so much more to life itself.
What have you been suppressing? What part of you is screaming to be expressed?