Palm tree growing in the shadow of another treeIn the backyard of my sister's holiday house where I'm currently staying is this palm tree on the right of and growing very close to a larger gum tree. The palm is living it's life in the shadow of the other tree and you can see that it's not as big or as luscious as palm trees usually are. In fact, it looks mangy and emaciated. Not flourishing. The leaves are small, few and far between. They fall off easily. This palm tree is not exactly fulfilling its full potential.

That's because the shadow from the other tree blocks the sunlight, and they're so close to each other that their root systems have got to be entangled and choking each other. It's probably fair to say that as a result the slightly larger tree isn't growing to its full potential either.

Now I'm sure that my sister's septic system is glad these two trees aren't growing gangbusters, because they'd be sending their roots down into it. Or at least, it would be glad if septic systems had feelings; which I'm pretty sure they don't. They'd be pretty cranky at all the crap they have to put up with.

But looking at the two trees reminds me of what it's like living in a shadow, and some of the shadows I've had in my life including:

  • A general sense of self-doubt

  • A lack of self-confidence

  • A fear of failure and criticism

  • A vicious inner critic voice in my head

  • School-yard bullying and a resulting distrust of other people, especially other men

  • A complete lack of confidence with women

  • A religion that I ultimately found constraining, even though other people finding it liberating

  • A passive father

  • A dominant mother

  • A lucrative profession that left a large and important part of me unexpressed and unfulfilled.

  • Overwhelming anxiety to the point of panic attacks

  • Burn-out and depression

  • A chronic illness I'm still recovering from

  • A deep sense of shame inherited from all of the above

Wow, that sounds like a lot when I list them all like that!

None of these issues went away over night; they all took time, and some still bite me in various forms from time to time. Our lives are always a work in progress. Change is possible but takes time and it's important to stay motivated and focused. That's one reason a good mentor or coaching program can really help.

We're lucky as humans that we aren't rooted to the one spot, like the trees in my sister's backyard. Even if we grew up in one of these shadows, we can step out of them if we're persistent and courageous enough. And the way you get courageous is by taking action even if you're afraid of an uncertain outcome.

So ask yourself these questions:

  1. What shadow am I still living in, that I need to step out of?

  2. What would my life be like if I wasn't living in this shadow?

  3. What goal can I commit to working towards that will move me out of the shadow to greater freedom?

  4. What action can I take right now towards that goal?

Graham Stoney

Graham Stoney

I struggled for years with low self-esteem, anxiety and a lack of self-confidence before finding a solution that really worked. I created The Confident Man Program to help other men live the life of their dreams. I also offer 1-on-1 coaching via Skype so if you related to this article contact me about coaching.

1 Comment

Graham Stoney

Graham Stoney · November 23, 2011 at 9:25 am

Thanks Chris; I'm always happy to inspire others to grow!

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