Ten is a wonderful age. So was nine. And eight. And seven.
Age three to about six? Not so much!
Anyway, one of the things I love about watching my newly double-digited daughter develop is her growing self-awareness at this age, especially about how she wants to appear to others, or fears she will appear.
Every time she tells me about one of these things my heart leaps with joy. Firstly because of the great privilege of being made privy to private details of her heart and soul; And secondly because I know that with this kind of awareness about her desires and fears, she can grow to discern the motivations behind her actions more clearly, and with such discernment can come a great and glorious freedom.
She shared such an insight about herself this morning on the way to school, and it was obvious that realising and acknowledging this fear she had about how people might perceive her because of a certain action had already brought her some freedom. As we drove through the -22˚C morning, in a similarly frigid car, we talked about how, without this awareness, she would be driven to act in certain ways without even knowing why or feeling she had a choice. But once she could see what she feared and what she wanted, she had a choice not to be driven by those fears or desires. And her decision this morning was to carry on with the action she had chosen, despite how she feared it would look to others, and just enjoy it! A beautiful victory!!
And this is the gift of an examined life – freedom and joy. Be it through pondering while lying in bed, through journaling, through praying, through processing with a friend, it is worth it to take the time to examine and reflect on what motivates us. Without awareness, it’s too easy to be tricked into believing that we have no choice but to avoid the thing we fear, or fight for the thing we desire. But we DO have a choice, and we DON’T need to follow the path mapped out for us by these powerful fears and longings.
Here’s an experiment for you – a dare, if you wish! The next time you become aware of a desire or fear that is driving you, especially if it is making you feel as if you have no choice but to act in a certain way, consider whether you can actually act in a very different way than you habitually would! Can you say what you really think to a friend instead of holding your tongue as you normally feel you must? (This pattern is very familiar to me!) Can you say ‘no’ despite what you fear the asker will think of you or how you will feel/appear to yourself? Can you… [fill in the gap with your usually avoided action]? Go on, give it a go! And then come on back here and let me know how it goes! 🙂