For those of you with young children in the family, you're probably already laughing. For those others of you who think I've finally tipped over the edge, let me explain. A few years ago, my niece Gabby was nothing short of obsessed with The Lego Movie. We watched it over and over again until I felt my brain was ready to combust.
We were laughing about it recently and reminiscing. We talked about her favourite character, Princess UniKitty. Princess UniKitty rules a kingdom - Cloud Cuckoo Land - where negativity is not allowed, at all, ever! Little lady cross kitten/unicorn, patrols at speed around Cloud Cuckoo Land ensuring that nothing negative is uttered, no one exhibits any negative emotions and that Master Frown doesn't infiltrate her precious territory, spreading sadness and negativity. She wants to build her kingdom and actively invites other characters to come and live there. Sounds great in principle, doesn't it? But, of course it's just not sustainable. She has her trigger, her little brother, and often completely loses it when he's upset or threatened by anyone. That's not the lesson I want to highlight here though. What I took from UniKitty is far more poignant.
You see, no one was taken in by her. And, more importantly, no one trusted her. Because, no one really knew her. They sensed her endless positivity was fake and feared what might lie beneath. Needless to say, everything eventually busted wide open, chaos ensued, lessons were learned and balance was returned to the kingdom. Typical animation saccharin. But, I love this.
A couple of weeks ago, I got in to conversation with a friend of a friend around this very subject. The lovely lady in question is a corporate coach. She’s had some pretty momentous personal challenges in her life including being adopted and only recently tracing her birth mother. She’s faced serious illness and family issues. She very proudly explained to me how she has a ‘corporate image’, a façade that she wears that, in her words, ‘ protects’ her. As we got deeper in to conversation though, it became clear that the very façade, or what I refer to as an ‘avatar’, she has created to protect herself, is damaging her unbelievably. Now, I was off duty you understand, so I fiercely resisted entering in to Mentor/Coach mode, but I did share an insight with her that she now claims has changed everything, and it’s all thanks to Princess UniKitty. Well, and me for interpreting the lesson I guess.
You see, we only trust people when we know people and we can only know people when they allow us to, when they allow themselves to be fully visible as the fabulous human beings they are designed to be, living the way they are designed to, doing the things they are designed to do in the way only THEY can. “You are you. That’s truer than true. There’s no-one alive who is you’er than you.” Says Dr Seuss. The thing is, as life moves along, we can often allow ourselves to be shaped and shifted and directed down a path we were just not meant to walk. When we do that, we feel disconnected, even lost and frightened. Then, we build Avatars, versions of ourselves, to help us cope with the disconnect. Of course, all that really does is deepen the disconnect. We get so used to living, or rather surviving, that way that it becomes almost second nature and, like getting used to a niggling pain in the neck, we just carry on carrying on.
As children, we become aware of the importance of relationship building and bonding with other human beings very early on. Children instinctively know that the way to build a solid relationship is to get to know someone and to allow them to know you. So, they slowly release bits of information about themselves that give the potential friend an insight in to who they really are. It starts with favourite games, colours, foods until eventually, they feel they know and trust the potential friend enough to share the odd secret. Children aren’t afraid to show people who they really are, and they’re all the happier for it. As we become adolescents and adults, we forget that’s how it works and are even taught that putting up shields, creating Avatars is the way to go. Then, when we feel lost, disconnected and like we’re constantly pushing up river and like no one ‘gets’ us, we wonder why. When we feel we’re surrounded by the wrong people, mixing in the wrong circles, doing a job we don’t like, running a business that feels like it’s running us, we wonder why.
Every single time I encounter this with my clients, it’s because they’re hiding the very part of themselves that makes them unique, the part of them that the world is waiting for and needs. It’s because they’ve created avatars and because they’re walking someone else’s path or wandering around in the wilderness trying to find the right path.
UniKitty had good intentions but the harder she tried to build her kingdom, the more the other characters resisted, because they didn’t know or trust her and they sensed something in her that just wasn’t real. They saw beyond (or through) the version of herself she was presenting to them. Humans are even more perceptive than Lego characters…mostly. If you’re hiding behind an Avatar, a version of yourself, people will sense it and it will repel them. No matter how hard you try, the best you will do is attract other humans who are doing the exact same thing.
The Cherokee apparently have a unique way of greeting new people. When they’re introduced, they take a moment to feel the spirit of the other person in order to feel a connection to their true self. If they don’t feel it, they won’t make the connection. If they do, instead of the usual “hello”, they say “I feel you.” How beautiful is that?
So, are you a UniKitty in Cloud Cuckoo Land? Are you faking it? Are you afraid to let people see the very you that you were designed to be? Afraid to walk your own path, live your own purpose? Step out and let us see you. The world needs what you’re here to do and needs YOU.
It's time to Walk your own Life Path.
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