As we live our lives and grow older and begin to learn more about life and ourselves as individuals, we tend to come across subtle qualities about ourselves we weren’t aware of before. One thing I have noticed is that as we grow older it becomes more difficult to get excited about anything. This came about through years of being told to “smile” and to “cheer up” or better yet, “show some excitement.” On the inside I was excited but I just didn’t get why those around me didn’t see it. As children it is easy to jump up and down with excitement but not so much as adults. The reason I feel this way is because as a child I would get excited about something and then right away it would be taken away from me. Some adults around me would use what I was excited about as punishment. For example, if I got excited about going to a friends house for a party or to go swimming that day, that was exactly what would get taken away from me if those adults found it necessary to punish me for something.If I had a toy I really liked, that would be taken away from me and so on.
So I would begin to hide my excitement in order for those things not to be taken from me. This, I believe, led to a lot of inaction on my part with a lot of instances throughout my life where I could have applied myself more but didn’t because this was holding me back. I began to realize I hadn’t been excited about much in a long time. I knew there was a lot to look forward to and be excited about but when it came to expressing that it was almost non-existent. All my accomplishments in life were not met with the excitement and gratitude they deserved because of this. I realized there was shame associated with being excited. That those punishments piled up to the point that I had to adjust and hide such excitement in order to keep what it was I was excited about. Because if I let it show then it was in danger of being taken away. I still remember the feeling I would get. Almost like a feeling of betrayal which led to being hurt and then led to hiding it in the future. So immediately following my feelings of excitement would be a feeling of loss. Going from super excited to extremely disappointed and hurt.Even if the punishment did justify what I did wrong there were still times that it wasn’t warranted and that is why it manifested into what it did as I grew up. Because not every time I was punished did I deserve it. The punishment did not add up therefore, I did not understand. So it amounted to more and more confusion which caused me not to see what was really going on. I associated my punishment to being excited when really it had nothing to do with it. Yes, my excitement was being used against me which led me to hide it more, but now as an adult, there is no one to use it against me. There is no reason to punish myself. Self-sabotage is a form of punishment that stems from what I am talking about. Where I would take over the role of the adult and take something taken away from me just because I was so used it, I would delay the inevitable and get something taken away from me because that is how I had been programmed to think. When really, it doesn’t have to be that way, and I see that now.
This revelation came about in many ways, but it became real when I first began practicing yoga in group settings with an instructor. We were in the middle of the balance training and I completed the whole routine without falling. It was like I went somewhere else completely and allowed myself to trust myself while shutting down all thoughts and maintaining focus. After it was over I automatically started smiling and immense excitement took over. But as soon as the instructor noticed and complimented me, I felt ashamed I was so happy and excited. I took note of that incident and finished the class. But I had much more work to do afterwards. My inability to feel excitement was accompanied with shame and succeeding. And even worse, I was embarrassed that I felt it, and that was reflected back to me through my instructor. My instructor was supporting my growth instead of trying to take it away. It was the support afterwards that made the difference and set the stage for change in myself. Something different happened and I took notice. Something so simple opened up a complex pattern I had formed. So, I guess when I realized that, it had a different effect on me, which allowed me to see it differently from how I had before. Having this happen in front of another person is a key element in the equation because they are observing it right there with you, making it more real. It’s one thing to experience things like this alone but it’s completely different and more productive in the company of others, because I thought I didn’t get embarrassed, but what was going on inside me embarrassed me. Others can serve as reflectors and there is a difference between that and projection, so it’s important to know the difference. Anyway, yoga was leaving me with no choice but to express and it came about automatically. This can be attributed to the fact I shut down my thoughts and allowed it to come through me to be expressed, easily. There were no filters or hiding anymore which eventually left nothing but the truth at that moment in time. It was a moment I’ll never forget and really weird at the time, but it never happened again. Eventually, I’d do my yoga and the excitement and appreciation for my findings, remained with me each time. If I succeeded, I’d smile with the instructor and thank her instead. I’m no longer ashamed of my capabilities. It was okay I was getting good at my yoga. No one can take that away from me and I see that now. I’ve learned it’s important to take responsibility for your successes as well! Never downplay your potential or how far you’ve come. I’ve learned it was me who worked hard to earn those successes.
Then I remembered something. I think I was remembering the first time it ever happened. It reminded me of the time my mom heard me sing a song about a homeless man I saw sitting across the street and my mom gave me a compliment as she was walking by me. I couldn’t have been older than 5. I remember not caring if anyone was listening but also hoping no one was. Because if no one was listening I could sing about this man with all I had and not be embarrassed of the emotions I was feeling. I was intrigued with empathy for this man which was the gist of the song. My mom told me it was a beautiful song and instantly I was embarrassed and ashamed just for expressing myself. Maybe even more embarrassed I was caught having empathy and curiosity and that man. I don’t think I ever sang like that again. But I turned to writing eventually, so maybe it all worked out. Anyway, it’s like the more compliments and evidence appearing that I was good at something, the more I’d not want to do it anymore. I was learning to hide. It started that young if not earlier. I’ve also learned to accept compliments, but that is another story that shall be told another time.
For another example, it also reminded me of a time when I was six and we were playing around the world with multiplication flash cards. I was really good at it and won every time. Eventually, the teacher agreed to skip the kids who usually won to let the kids who never one play a game with just themselves. So in a way I felt like I was being punished for being smart. I didn’t mind letting the other kids play, but I remember the feeling of being left out of something I was extremely excited about. The teacher decided this after she announced we were playing so I got up all excited to only have sit back down with disappointment in a quick minute. I was always so excited when the teacher would say we were playing that game and then it was taking away while implanting a seed that implied being smart means you will be left out or that it wasn’t a good thing. Plus the game was taken away from me at the same time. Once again, my excitement proved to cause something to get taken away. I knew then and know now I wasn’t being punished but it still made its impact on me. It’s funny how these things manifest later in life. I was always two grades ahead in math throughout school, but eventually I not only learned to hide my excitement, but I also learned to hide how smart I really was. Even though I was always two grades ahead in math, I sometimes wonder why I wasn’t smart enough to know it was better to be smart than to fit in so I wouldn’t be left out. I felt punished for winning every time when I should have been supported. I see now that this is the past and just because I felt that way doesn’t mean they had bad intentions, I know that, I’m just pointing out how these little things do add up and do make impressions on us as we grow up, especially as a six year old. And how we can be oblivious to how they manifest inside us and affect us throughout our lives. But as we get older we get a clearer perspective and realize it doesn’t have to a part of us anymore. We don’t have to let it define us. Sometimes we take the past and make it out to be much worse than it actually was and other times we take a look at the past and realize it was more important than we thought at the time. We either blow it out of proportion or we don’t give it enough significance to begin with. I’ve learned to take notice of just the importance of past incidents and see them for what they were instead of blowing them out of proportion.
Then I realized that this little habit had been holding me back from expressing much throughout my life. It stopped me from expressing appreciation for those in my life also. With no excitement came a mound of other emotions that weren’t being expressed due to me being shut down as a child. My ability to express excitement eventually ceased which led to the emotions that normally occur afterwards to cease also. I began to wonder if this led to people thinking I didn’t appreciate things they were doing for me because I couldn’t express it. Like I had a built in mechanism that prevented me from doing so out of fear that it would be taken away or that it was too good to be true. I didn’t realize how it was effecting those close to me. All because of these incidents long ago.
Overall, I’ve learned that it is okay to be excited! Which led me to learn to express gratitude. Which led me appreciate those in my life more and be able to show them also. I saw the foolishness in it and since have recovered my inner child and accomplished feeling excitement again. This was accelerated through my yoga practice while it allowed this problem to magnify and come to the surface to be expressed in order for me to understand it better. Although I was caught off guard at first, it was exactly what needed to happen in order for me to discover and heal this aspect of myself. That day in yoga allowed me to feel excitement/happiness and then express it and then I was able to observe my negative reaction to it especially in the presence of another person. That was key. I came to the conclusion that only I can take away the things that I’m excited about, and that there is no one else that can. This also is great insight into self-sabotage behavior which overflows into relationships because even people would get taken away from me, but that is a story that should be told another time.
As I ventured down this road further, I’ve learned if I build up a lot of excitement and things don’t go as planned that that is okay also. It’s important to understand that when things don’t go as you pictured to not let it disappoint you. It’s okay to be excited and have expectations but it’s important to not build up what the outcome will be and then be disappointed when it doesn’t happen exactly as you thought. So even though I am now able to express excitement when I am excited about something but I also do not create expectations. With expectations comes disappointment. It’s important to let go of control with the outcome. I’ve learned that through discovering my inability to express excitement due to my fear of it being taken away (whether it be a thing, event, a pet, or person), that it led to many other inabilities that stemmed from this. It almost led to a life of apathy from just this isolated incident. But if you are aware of what caused it then you can go back to the root of the problem and understand why you are the way you are and it is possible to recover what was once lost. Because it is still a part of you, you just have to find it again. But most of all, I’ve learned if you hide your excitement you are missing out on the one thing that allows your passions to come to the surface. And without knowledge of what drives you, you will never know what you want or what will make you happy.
(Copyright Kerrious 2014 with all rights reserved)