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The heavy hands on our shoulders

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Do you have an invisible, but heavy hand on your shoulder?

Most of us wish to grow through life, standing ever taller and straighter as we go. Expressing ever more of our true selves.

If we’re lucky, we have people who metaphorically crouch down, clasp their hands together and give us a leg up to new heights of self-expression.

But we often also have people who place an invisible heavy hand on our shoulder, firmly pressing down. Seeking to make us smaller.

They’re not the blatantly ill-willed, who seek to cut us down. These people are easy to spot and easier to ignore.

Instead, they’re often well-intentioned people who let their insecurities and ineptitudes impede our growth.

They might love us, but they’re lacking the self-awareness and/or responsibility to stop themselves from doing it.

It’s hard, because it’s often those we’re close to: family members, partners, friends and colleagues.

And it’s insidious. We don’t notice it for a long time, until the weight is unbearable. Because, if it happens once, we don’t think anything of it. If we notice it at all.

But then it becomes a pattern. And it’s usually subtle.

It might be someone who encourages us to:

  • Adopt more “realistic” goals, rather than pursue what we truly desire
  • Take “safer” or higher paid jobs, rather than grow into our vocation
  • “Grow up” and follow the beaten path, rather than carve our own path
  • Maintain the status quo, rather than improve things
  • Agree with them, rather than develop our own worldview
  • Spend all our time with them, rather than maintain healthy independance
  • Convert to their beliefs, rather than celebrate our differences
  • Skirt around their insecurities, rather than asking us to help them work on themselves
  • Edit our words, rather than express our true selves
  • Minimise our achievements, rather than celebrate them

But – if every time we try to stand taller and straighter, we have a hand on our shoulder weighing us down – it takes a toll. It adds drag to our growth.

As Dan Peña said, “Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future”.

Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future

Dan Peña

Think about the people you invest your time with.

Are they giving you a leg up?

Or are they pressing down on your shoulder?

Where to next?