It occurred to me over my predawn coffee how many moments in life are not truly experienced due to fear or the desire to stay within the box of norms. We have adeptly put that box in place from needing a sense of control.
In early childhood, we walk approaching life in splendour and wonder. Experiences bring new explosions on the senses creating a ripple. This expands from the moment we touch, feel, see or smell something to the responses others have around us while we are engaging through the moment.
A simple new pleasure can become a spectacle of others commenting and drawing attention to other areas we may not have noticed. Equally the responses may be of disapproval and in those moments the spectacular wonder can turn into shame or guilt. Moments of self-discovery can be turned into what pleases someone else rather than what it is for us. We can lose ourselves in those responses and process a new belief system.
The first moment of touching mud or tasting ice cream or seeing a butterfly can be swarmed with thousands of pieces of additional information other than our own.
How much of what we experience at this moment is truly based on our own opinion or being?
This is almost impossible to quantify as from the very moment we are born our life became a part of those around us. Each building block of information laid by what we interpret from others.
Even our rebelling over what we are not is based on our past and can be a dramatic swing of resistance based on unhealed wounds.
In its simplest form, take the child who is staring in wonder at a spider watching in delight as its spins its web. The parent who is terrified of spider’s shrieks so the child then turns that wonder into fear. This learnt response can remain for an entire lifetime.
We are such complex beings, facing new potential dilemmas daily from a point of reference of what social media dictates. We are consistently fed what is perceived as acceptable or desirable and this leaves it even more difficult to find who we truly are.
One of the areas that saddens me is the vast amount of information that is judgment-based. There is an incredible amount of help, but also potential harm that is delivered through social platforms. One particular platform I noticed has many amazing people with varying abilities sharing their lives. Volumes of people send comments from a place of deep angered judgment while others from extreme joy and support.
It has been since the beginning of time that humans have felt they have the right to judge others. It is now at the surface and more visible than ever due to access to social media; it rules our modern societies.
I would love to be able to pull back the lever on social media and hit the pause button. Allow for us all to take a moment and rediscover the simpler things in life. To celebrate each other for differences and help to lift each other. I know that may sound cliché but none of us get out of here without wounds and scars; we all know that. We should try to stop adding to them or, at the very least, minimize them.
I have had many conversations recently on how you never know what a first or last experience will be. I for one want to be present enough to fully experience moments so if it is the first or the last it will be something tangible and expansive. Even the simplest of moments can provide a gift.
Allowing fear can serve a purpose when it comes to assessing physical danger, but when it comes to experiences of life it can hinder us beyond what we could have imagined. One of my lovely Aunts consistently reminded me that there were no right or wrong decisions in life, simply different outcomes; all have growth and all have new experiences.
Andrea Lines-Botell is a mental health advocate and life coach with a passion for dynamically supporting change.
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