It’s funny, growing up I was always surrounded by strong male influences. From a young age, I started hanging around the Rugby Club with my ‘old man.’ And through my own playing career, I was always conditioned to block out all emotions and feelings. At the time, I never really noticed. And I noticed, ever so slowly, I was putting up a brick wall around me, like a reinforced shield; not letting any emotion from others in. Not sharing any feelings of my own with others.
I really was not letting any emotion out, frankly, none at all. It’s hard to say when I first noticed what I had been doing. Just flashes or moments in time, where I would catch myself holding back. The older I got, the more conscious and aware I became of it all. The subtle shyness, the lack of inner self confidence, the fear of over expressing myself amongst others. It makes sense; not wanting to get ‘ripped on’ for saying or doing something slightly silly. Like walking on egg shells, yes, that’s how it was.
I’m sure you have been there yourself, especially as a young male growing up. “Your emotions are a sign of weakness,” is a constant saying that was frequently banded about, especially on the sports field. It can be difficult. The way I thought of it at the time, was that it felt like I was locked up in cage where I could see everything that was going on. Everything around me was plain and awkward, and I felt like I couldn’t break free to participate. I found I was holding myself back from truly enjoying life, spending too much time wondering what other people thought of me. As a result, I felt like I truly lacked self-confidence. Yep, I was kind of shy. Emotionless, even.
One day a friend of mine was talking to me about this course he had done. He said it wasn’t like any other course he had done before. As he went into detail, I have to admit, it sounded a bit weird. However, I could see and hear the difference in him. I hadn’t seen him for about eight years, and all of a sudden he just had this new lease on life… it was a vibrancy I hadn’t seen in him before. Wow, I thought. He is going places, confidently and excitedly. I wanted to be like that, too.
Being curious, I went along to a weekend workshop. Day 1 of the event was a bit unusual. The way the workshop was taught, was something that was completely different to me. I was with a couple of my mates and we were tossing up whether we should leave or not. Day 2 rolled around, and even though something deep down inside told me that I had to go, again. It turned out that it was the best decision that I had ever made; to stay.
These courses really opened my eyes as to how guarded I was. Really! not even living my life. They taught me skills that helped me to really come out of my shell, not in an awkward way, either. Seriously, if you asked any of my friends they would tell you that I was a confident, outgoing guy. But from an internal perspective – I now know that I have found my external attitude to be matched with what I feel like inside. Unlike before, when I felt empty and detached. I am now a lot more at ease in a variety of situations, and if I am feeling uneasy, I know that I have the confidence to overcome it. Without doubting myself at all.
I am now able to connect with people a lot more easily, especially with my partner. I find that I don’t block her out emotionally anywhere near as much as I used to. I still have a little bit of work to do, but I am confident that with the skills I have learned, it won’t take me much longer to fully get there. I am so proud of what I have achieved, because it has impacted my whole life, in such a positive way.
The biggest change in me, is that now I don’t feel shy or care about what anyone else thinks. I’m quite happy to do whatever it is I want to do, no matter how silly it may seem at the time; especially if it may seem like that to others. And if it’s something that I want to do, something I will get enjoyment out of, then I know I can choose to do it. Yep! now I will do it, rather than freezing up and not making a choice at all.
I just wish everyone else could give them self this same gift, the awesome gift of being able to fully let go, and live in the moment; to truly connect. And not only just with others, but more importantly to make a connection with themselves, from the inside out. If everyone did that, the world would truly be a great place. We can all start today…one amazing human at a time. It was my best decision, ever.