We usually cheer at scenes in movies when someone yells, “Abandon Ship!” and crew and passengers safely jump to lifeboats in order to escape a sinking ship. Understandably, we are shocked and disturbed when someone abandons an adequately safe and secure seaworthy vessel facing no peril.
Sadly, some of us were conditioned to abandon ourselves when we navigated the uncertain seas of childhood. At some point, we abandoned the ship of Authentic Self, and jumped into the lifeboat of Conditioned Self, where our awareness was directed away from our authentic identity and inherent value. Below is a little story about how self-abandonment once occurred without any terrible trauma.
How Beautiful Baby Abandons Ship
Once upon a time, an unwanted baby was conceived in a troubled family. When her prenatal presence was discovered, a discussion occurred in which Aunt asked to raise the baby. At birth, however, Mom took one look at Beautiful Baby and loved her enough to keep her. This heart-warming tale was often repeated to Beautiful Baby as she grew up, but it left her feeling a bit empty. In a family where her practical needs were provided in spades, Beautiful Baby often felt ignored: grownups focused on other things or people, not her. To register on family radar, Beautiful Baby learned to please others, work hard in school, and entertain with humor. Her focus was all outward.
Focusing all that attention on others still left Beautiful Baby feeling empty inside, so she learned to satisfy inner hunger with lots of yummy food. This process worked so well that by kindergarten she got a new name: Too Big Girl. Family talked about Too Big Girl’s weight all through elementary school, often using sarcasm to motivate weight loss. But it was hard to lose weight when the family eating habits did not change. In 5th grade, Too Big Girl’s mother came up with a solution to fix her daughter: Mom asked Pediatrician to prescribe diet pills for Too Big Girl. Alas, the solution failed: Too Big Girl could not sleep and felt jittery all day long. The diet pills stopped, but Too Big Girl learned to reject her big body and denigrate her inner value.
By middle school, Too Big Girl knew that she had to work really hard to be loved and to matter in the world. By high school, she had slimmed down a lot, but her name was stuck like glue. Too Big Girl lived in the shadow of thinner girls, and although she was starting to feel kind of smart, she was sure that others were smarter. She was one of several student speakers on graduation night, but only learned later that she had graduated at the top of her class. By then, it didn’t mean so much because her rural school was very small and her feeling of emptiness very, very large.
This fairly true tale shows how one Beautiful Baby reached adulthood without exploring her innate value and Authentic Self. Along the way, she was conditioned to devalue her body and dismiss her awareness of self, so she took on a new name – Too Big Girl – which reflected that she was just not enough. Decades later, aided by a wise therapist, our heroine discovered that she had been wondering around adult seas in the Conditioned Self. In therapy, she began the process of reclaiming her Authentic Self. Her journey began with self-awareness. Welcome home, Beautiful Baby.
What’s your ride on the high seas: Authentic Self or Conditioned Self?