I sit and watch a friend agonizing over something she’s writing, moaning she’s no good at this kind of thing. She does this all the time. She writes for a living and is really pretty good at it, but that doesn’t stop the moaning and occasional self-doubt.
It may be true that she wasn’t born with a natural talent to put words on paper. I really can’t think of anyone who is. But she’s developed that talent: encouraged by teachers and family, not only to pursue what she wanted to pursue, but also by their own power of example, showing her how to live successfully. Her accomplishment is just as real and “valid” as if she were born with it. She’s worked really hard to get to the level of competence she’s at, and I applaud her.
Seth Godin, in his recent blog titled The Musclebound Baby, reminded me that when we see a person with a lot of muscles, we don’t assume they were born that way. Instead we assume they worked hard to develop those muscles.
Family traits are way more than what gets handed down through genes. We all know that. How our parents raise us; how we were nurtured by them; how they modeled being an adult to us; even the family culture – all of these are major influencers in the way we develop. There’s even some evidence that some traits are picked up at a cellular level, even if not genetically (For instance, we now know that if a mother is malnourished during pregnancy, she will carry that information in her cells to her offspring down the generations).
What I find so cool is knowing that whatever I’ve picked up from my parents, I can use to build up my strength. Sure, I can also use them to limit myself, but I’d rather see what I can make of them to expand my capabilities and options.
Like my friend, who learnt through dogged effort (which she learned from her Mother) to write well.
NOTE: the photo above is from a BING screenshot. It’s something you can get, as I did, if you have a Windows Operating System.
Maryanne Nicholls is a Registered Psychotherapist. To find out more, gain access to her weekly newsletter, meditations and programmes, sign up at www.thejoyofliving.co .