The state of our beautiful, fragile world is calling all of us to bring forward the very best of who we are: our love, our truth, our beauty, our gifts, our genius. We need all of us bringing forth all of our humanity, not only as bodies and voices adding our mass to the volume of protest (though that is critical) but as fully alive human beings committed to sharing the fullness of our powers of caring, consciousness, and creativity.
If your genius is of the sort that resists simple categories, if your gifts feel complicated and unclear to you, this call from the world may feel like a welcome nudge to come to a new place of inner integration, or - I fear - it may feel like a painful new force, ratcheting up the internal pressure you've been feeling to define your purpose and your focus.
Mary-Elaine Jacobsen, PsyD. says that the greatest barriers to making the contributions we were born to make are not "out there" in society, but "in here" - in our own hearts and minds. I've been reading her book The Gifted Adult ...and let's just stop there for a moment, shall we?
Before you start balking at that word "gifted" or questioning whether it applies to you...let me share three hallmarks that Jacobsen identifies with the people she calls "Everyday Geniuses": Intensity, complexity, and a strong sense of inner drive to make a positive impact in the world. Are you Intense? Complex? Internally driven? Want to make the world a better place? Ok, relax. You're in. Read on.
"Counseling gifted people... I was increasingly alarmed to see how confused they are by their unexplained inner conflicts, which only grow stronger over the years. ...The inner story is one of lost identity. Repeatedly, I have been struck by their lack of freedom to express themselves and fulfill their potential. And on a much larger scale I am dismayed by the precious commodity our society loses when our most creative people are overwrought with self-doubt and self-sabotage."
Whew! This description resonates intensely with me - those "unexplained inner conflicts" have occupied the better part of my adult life, and I can see how the inner battles that so consumed me also robbed me of the ability to create the kind of impact that my internal pressures demanded of me...which in turn dialed up the heat on the inner conflict - wheeeee! So much time spent wrestling to understand my own complexity, to overcome my self-doubt, and to construct an inner scaffolding to support my multi-modal creative self! There is beauty and necessity in this kind of struggle, but it requires much of us!
If you are locked in this kind of internal battle, the external pressures that our threatened democracy is now placing on you may feel quite clarifying - which is great! But, if you are feeling that these new pressures are, instead, heightening your sense of shame for not living up to your potentials and not showing up with your truest gifts in the world, here are five suggestions for you:
1. Take heart that you are not alone. The questions about your own identity and purpose that are haunting you - even torturing you at times - are NOT signs that you are deficient or lacking the ability to commit or denying your responsibility to contribute. Your internal conflicts are the effects of your giftedness trying to find integration and form in the world.
2. Do not give up on your quest to know your own nature. Jacobsen says, "Everyday Geniuses must ultimately seek their authentic natures, and they must do so steadfastly, for no confidence can arise from unanswered questions about one's core being." The confidence and clarity you are seeking will emerge as you continue your search.
3. Be aware that "knowing your nature" really means "knowing your creative nature." Here's how Erwin McManus puts it in his book, The Artisan Soul: Crafting Your Life into a Work of Art "It takes courage to not only accept our limitations, but embrace our potential. To deny our creative nature is to choose a life where we are less and thus responsible for less. We see ourselves as created beings, so we choose to survive. When we see ourselves as creative beings, we must instead create." If your inner drive is steering you to take responsibility for manifesting your potentials more fully, the place to look is to your creative nature.
4. Remember that your genius may not be located in a single clear gift, but rather in the combination of gifts that you bring. This means you can ease up on the quest to locate a unified capital G "Gift," and focus instead on exploring what it means to express yourself fully as a creative being. This might well mean honoring an array of different ways of creating. I designed The Creative Constellation Card Deck to offer you a tactile way to explore the combination of creative gifts that make up your authentic nature.
5. Focus on supporting and nurturing the aspects of your gifts that you are most clear about, while listening to the parts of you that are whispering to find greater voice. You do not have to have it all figured out before you act. In fact, the less-in-focus parts of you will come into focus much faster through action - because it is in action that you can tune into your own aliveness...what is lighting you up? what is energizing you? what feels scary in that good way that signals a path worth exploring?
Jacobsen says, "Today, paying tribute to one's genius means listening deeply to it, fostering its growth, and using its power of influence honorably." I say, the world needs what you've got. And if you are still seeking to understand what you've got, that's OK! We'll take whatever parts you can authentically and wholeheartedly offer today, trusting that more will unfold in the fullness of time.
Just show up with your good-enough self wherever you are called to be. I guarantee life will help take it from there.