As most of you know, I am currently reading “Finding Your Own North Star” by Martha Beck, and the quote above was a question she asked a man named Melvin. This middle-aged professional went to see a therapist and this was the first of three questions asked of him, and of course for which Melvin had no answer. It wasn’t asked because the therapist was interested in delving into Melvin’s childhood, but to see if he could connect with his inner self; his inner child.
“The conversation I had with Melvin’s “social self”, the part of him that had learned to value the things that were valued by the people around him. This “social self” couldn’t tell me what Melvin loved, enjoyed or wanted, because it literally didn’t known. It didn’t remember Melvin or his childhood, because it had spent years telling him to ignore what he preferred and stop acting like a child.” ~Martha Beck – Finding Your Own North Star
I really related to Melvin. For many years I was in what I called “survival mode”, a state-of-being focused on simply surviving the day. In this state, there was no time or opportunity to focus on what was wanted, because I was too busy trying to fulfill what was needed, therefore causing suppression of those things I loved, enjoyed or wanted. I had been in survival mode for as long as I could remember, so, like Melvin, wouldn’t have understood the question had it also been asked of me. I’ve lived a comfortable life for the past two decades, and perhaps during the last half, I started to seek out the answers to those simple questions. What do I love? What do I enjoy? What do I want?
According to Beck, this part of ourselves is called the “essential self”, something born a curious, fascinated and playful little creature. “After forty-five years, it still contained powerful urges toward individuality, exploration, spontaneity, and joy. But by repressing these urges for years and years, Melvin’s “social self” had lost access to them. It was inevitable that Melvin would also lose his true path, because while his social self was the vehicle carrying him through life, it was cut off from his essential self, which had all the navigational equipment that pointed toward his North Star.”
I’m finding myself back to a balance. From all outward appearances it may seem I’m lost at sea without a rudder or a compass, but that was the state I had been – a proverbial navigational breakdown, but not anymore. I’m making the hard adjustments and gaining control of my ship. A storm still rages, the waters are tumultuous, but I see small glimpses of my North Star and am holding the helm steady. My ship is taking a beating, but I’m still afloat, I still sail, and I will arrive at my destination.
Till next time,