Once, i must have been about ten years old, i was having my girlfriends from school over for a playdate. That same afternoon my guy friend from kindergarden called and asked if he could come by. I was too excited about my female visitors and said something along the lines of: "Sorry, I already have people over, maybe some other time..." Then I hung up the phone. My mother - always the hospitable Italian - wouldn't hear of such behavior and made me call back and invite - let's call him - Kyle over to join my girlfriends and me to watch a movie. But Kyle, politely, declined.
Even though my words no longer said so, he could clearly feel that he wasn't so welcome. In other words, energetically (or however you wish to call it), I had not made space for him. There was no place for him to fill and expand in, within our circle. Or maybe the place was so small, and only reluctantly given, that he would have had to contract to fit into it. And he didn't want that.
It is an interesting thing with us human beings: One of our primary emotinal needs is to feel included, to be part of a community. We wish for others to make us feel welcome us in their midst. On the other hand, there is also a strong innate longing to be true to ourselves, to be given space for who we are. I cannot speak for everybody, but I feel contracted when I feel that I cannot be completely authentic in order to fit in. Generally, we have a basic need to speak and be heard in our own voice. It makes us feel stifled when we have to tone it down to a whisper or choke it off completely. It seems to give us a sense of validation when we are welcomed by others for who we are.
So I wonder, who is responsible? Does it simply take courage and a sense of trust to be true to yourself and then Life will find you that space where you can thrive? Or do you need others to open up a little bit of space for you, so you you can expand and be yourself? Or is it a little bit of both - a co-creation of Life?
I don't see much of Kyle any more (not due to that incident, in case you were wondering). But I know he has become a doctor in physics and - what impresses me even more - a very accomplished master of Wing Chun Kung Fu.
Even as a small boy, I remember him already having this quality of not contracting, never apologizing for what he liked or did. Even as a small boy he was full, he expanded, no matter what. Me? I don't know… Not so much. Maybe it's time to puff up a bit and iron out the wrinkles that came from too many contractions.