I undervalued my independent thought.
Why we allow our nascient plans to be squashed under ‘know it all’ boots.
‘Oh you shouldn’t do it that way… ’
‘I’ve got a better idea… why don’t you…’
‘I’ve come up with a plan for you…’
‘That’s just a pipe dream … get real.’
And there it goes.
Your independent thought. Your open door to making mistakes. Your voyage of discovery.
What do you have in place of these delights and pains?
Something that someone thought would be better than what you thought.
Like this story that started in …
the summer of 76
when I had a glorious moment of independent thought.
It was a ‘tantrum’ style, spontaeous thought. No strategy involved.
I was going to leave Art School and get a job.
I had spent a few terms of a foundation year trying to find my thing.
I kept thinking — ‘what am I dong here?’
Floating around in a haze of patchouli and roll-ups — full of envy and a sense of futility.
I felt angry.
That feeling — I later came to realise — was fueled by a frustration with myself for not being myself.
I was about to explode.
But rather than trash the art studio, I expressed myself by…
I had never gone to Art School with a true passion or plan — it just seemed like the obvious thing to do.
I had gone there after getting a top grade at Art ‘A’level.
But I needed to feel there was a point — and I couldn’t find that point.
So one clear sky morning in the summer of 1976, I made a break for freedom.
No I didn’t go backpacking around the world.
I went to the local Job Centre.
I browsed the cards in the racks.
Sales Assistant — Mothercare.
Went for the interview.
Got the job.
There it was. My independent idea.
I would earn money.
I would see how it went — no big plan.
There in the heat of ’76, in a sweaty nylon uniform, with no air-conditioning… I was being my own person.
That didn’t last.
My father ‘saved’ me.
He was in a perfect position to ride in on a white horse and rescue me from my dire situation —you know —the ridiculous thing of me being a sales assistant.
An interview was arranged with retail royalty and as if by magic, I found myself on day one of a 3-year management training programme with Harrods.
I lasted a year.
I sabotaged — a habit I had.
Getting stroppy was my rather childish way of avoiding invisibility as an individual. Not productive — but a common theme in those with self-esteem baggage.
(Mind you — getting to see the secret underground corridors of Harrods was an adventure.)
The ‘stand up for myself, get squashed, self-sabotage’ pattern repeated itself for years — until I did some unsquashing work.
Please — no violins.
I simply share the story to illustrate the struggle of a squashed self.
I am now unsquashed.
When you feed and fail to question the inner-squashers in your head, you invite the boot of the ‘know it alls’ to squash your feisty soul.
So just what does ‘unsquashing work involve?
For me it involved:-
- constant curiosity
- lots of jobs and relationships — good and bad
- Seeing value in the tiny small stuff that I contributed to the world
- building, nurturing and enjoying a skill — of my choice
- owning thanks and praise and associating it with me!
- listening to criticism and applying the brakes before slipping down the self-hate/catastrophising spiral
- more constant curiosity
- more learning
- singing, dancing, painting, writing, reading and listening, exploring — and dissasociating the value from income and ‘success’.
Over to you.
Resist the squashers by unsquashing yourself!
All things human self-belief are explored in ‘The Mystery of the Squashed Self’. Available on Amazon — or order through bookshops.
I work with clients on being visible as them — confidence growing and clarity. Ditching baggage, sharing story and practicing performance. Details at www.trishalewis.com