As I was walking my angels this morning, I was listening to my guru, Dr. Brene Brown, (whom I have missed for a while) being interviewed on a podcast for The Science of Success. I missed her authentic and eye opening talks! The point that got my attention this morning was the one she was making about how leaders are not kept from being daring and courageous by their fear but by their armour.
If you think that armour only looks like a shield people physically put up – like alcohol, drugs and being a workaholic , you can’t be more wrong (though, of course, those fully qualify for the category of fake shields). Armour may look like yelling and putting other people down, cynicism, know-it-all-ness, perfectionism. And one of the phrases that really got my attention this morning is how when we are in our 20s and early 30s (not my case any longer, I know, but just sayin’) we strongly believe armour serves us. And bam! We’ve just set ourselves 20 steps behind in our development. Talking about her own daughter, Brene figures that if the former is able to understand about armour that, while it may protect you in some areas, it will definitely stop your development and authentic living altogether, when in her 20s, there is no limit to what she can actually achieve. Agreed! May we all be able to teach that to our children.
Flashback to my 20s, I remember my armours – yeah, I needed more than one – were very “society life approved”- thus much harder to put down: I was “the good girl”, helping everyone in need (sometimes against their will … yeah, I know … ), I made sure to appear cheerful and upbeat even when I was down in the dumps on the inside, I was a fanatic about practising religion and dotting all the Is and crossing all the whatevers – as if this was what mattered in a real experience with divinity.
Looking back I see myself like an onion – pick the red one, it’s more fun :). Life has helped me peel back a lot but my core is still covered. In times of distress, I still armour up. In my 40s that looks different though (and I guess the subtler it gets, the harder to unpeel in becomes): intense emotional reactions, outbursts of anger or frustration at times, still wanting people to like me and thus staying in conversations I don’t believe in or endorse just so that I don’t fall from their grace. And while I do understand the mechanism of armour and become conscious of it in the middle of an outburst or while I am sitting there listening to someone getting close because “we hate the same people”, I seem to still be one step behind in putting the armour down and being courageous at all times . Glad to know I have something to look forward to in my 50s. 🙂