Less than a week ago – on Tuesday, April 14 – we learned about Susan Boyle’s appearance on Britain’s Got Talent.
So much has occurred since then.*
But I want to say some things at the heart of the matter.
It’s time for truth telling . . .
First . . . how many people rolled their eyes, made faces with their mouths, judged, disrespected, mocked Susan?
How many people are blinded by appearance, whether that appearance is one of exquisite beauty or the opposite end of the spectrum?
How many people were blind to the human being, the heart and the unique soul beneath the outer appearance?
How many people would have stayed in that very same position, if Susan had not sung like an angel?
Would you have?
Second . . . let’s look at it from Susan’s perspective.
How was she able to stay grounded in herself, her realness, and her gift in the face of such ridicule? Most people fear to be themselves, for fear they will be responded to by that kind of mockery . . . and so instead, they hide themselves.
Susan didn’t collapse into a defense in response to people’s contempt. How did she do that? In the face of such contempt . . . most people collapse into a defense, created long ago in their childhoods in an attempt to protect the gift that they are.
In the face of such derision, would you collapse into a defense?
Susan watched and heard people’s scorn, but didn’t give up herself and her gift. She kept being and giving the gift that she is. In the face of such scorn. . . most people do give themselves up.
In the face of such derision, would you give up yourself and your gift . . . the gift that you are?
Third . . . back to the contempt.
Contempt is a defense against our own vulnerable feelings. If you were contemptuous of Susan . . . without being aware of it, you were defending yourself against your own feelings about putting yourself out there . . . revealing yourself undefendedly to others. You were defending yourself against the pain you have felt – the earliest of which was probably in your early childhood – when you were real, undefended, vulnerable, and could be nothing else.
Can you allow yourself to find the truth of that for you?
This may not seem political, but it most definitely is. It’s political for us as citizens. And it’s political for us as potential leaders.
The more contemptuous we are . . . the more we defend against our authentic selves and the more we misuse our power in relation to others’ authentic selves. The less we are able to stay grounded in ourselves and our realness . . . the less we are able to fully participate in healing and re-creating our world.
The more we collapse into our defenses . . . the more vulnerable we are to being programmed and controlled, instead of being vital contributing members of our society, and vital leaders as well. The more we give up the gifts we have to offer and the gift of ourselves . . . the less we have to offer to our world.
Caution: Given the wounds that have caused us to fear being ourselves, to collapse into our defenses, to give up ourselves and our gifts as supposed protection against judgment, ridicule and scorn . . . The work of healing this does not happen overnight. Our quick fix, put-a-bandaid-on-it society prevents the real healing and perpetuates the wounds.
The healing does not happen by willing it. It does not happen by burying once again our vulnerable feelings and trying to rise above them. It does not happen by managing and controlling our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. If we try to heal that way, we will only feed the wounds, the defenses, and the coping mechanisms we have carried with us into this day, causing them to persist and perhaps become even more tenacious. The wounds need to be healed to the root with patience, compassion, commitment, and great truth and love.
*On the one hand, word of Susan Boyle’s entire experience on Britain’s Got Talent, has spread all over the world. On the other hand, many are suspicious about the circumstances, whispering and blogging that it was planned … wondering aloud why her hair wasn’t coiffed and why she wasn’t dressed more fashionably.
For the purposes of this post, the most important thing is not what actually happened, but rather what we can learn about ourselves. That is true, even if the whole thing was planned, because if it was, the plan must have calculated what is true about our human nature.
My invitation: See what you can learn for yourself from the post.
(c) Judith Barr, 2009