Leap of Faith © C.J. Bradford
There is the risk you cannot afford to take,
[and] there is the risk you cannot afford not to take.
— Peter Drucker
As I mentioned yesterday, Julia poses some tough questions about our self-destructive shadow side, which we may find smack in our way at this point. She explains, “The question ‘Are you self-destructive?’ is asked so frequently that we seldom hear it accurately. What it means is ‘Are you destructive of yourself?’ And what that really asks us is, ‘Are you destructive of your true nature?’
“Many people, caught in the virtue trap, do not appear to be self-destructive to the casual eye. Bent on being good husbands, fathers, mothers, wives, teachers, whatevers, they have constructed a false self that looks good to the world and meets with a lot of worldly approval. This false self is always patient, always willing to defer its needs to meet the needs or demands of another. (‘What a great guy! That Fred gave up his concert tickets to help me move on a Friday night…’)
“Virtuous to a fault, these trapped creatives have destroyed the true self, the self that didn’t meet with much approval as a child. The self who heard repeatedly, ‘Don’t be selfish!’ The true self is a disturbing character, healthy and occasionally anarchistic, who knows how to play, how to say ‘no’ to others, and ‘yes’ to itself.”
She continues, “‘Are you self-destructive?’ is a question that the apparently virtuous would be bound to answer with a resounding no. They then conjure up a list proving how responsible they are. But responsible to whom? The question is, ‘Are you self-destructive?’ Not ‘Do you appear self-destructive?’ And most definitely not, ‘Are you nice to other people?’”
To answer this, we need to have a clear idea of who that self is that she’s questioning. She argues that this is the self we have been systematically ignoring and erasing ever since we were derailed from our creative dreams long ago.
So she suggests that you can gauge to what extent you are still disconnected from that wild, creative self by answering:
What would I try, if it weren’t so crazy:
1. Sky diving, scuba diving
2. Belly dancing, Latin dancing
3. Getting my poems published
4. Buying a drum set
5. Bicycling through France.
I would urge you to add your own ideas, too. If your list looks exciting, even crazy, she tells us we are on the right track. “These crazy notions are actually voices from our true self. What would I do, if it weren’t too selfish?”
If this seems like the unraveling of what is safe and well-known to you, maybe it is. But maybe that unraveling is precisely the opposite of what is most dangerous and self-destructive for the real you.
Tomorrow, I’ll share her Virtue Trap Quiz and more!