We have a friend who tells the story of driving one day and seeing a billboard sign advertising: “Self Storage.” As he kept driving, he thought, “Hmm… maybe that is where I stored myself!” What a distressing metaphor for what many of us do with our lives. We can easily hide or lock away the best parts of ourselves.
There are many ways in which we can put our Creator selves into “self-storage.” If your primary role in the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT) is that of a Rescuer, it is likely that you grew up with the idea that you should please others and put your needs in storage.
When you take on the mantel of Victimhood as an identity (and we all do from time to time!) you can lock away your power to choose what you want and avoid taking responsibility for creating it.
When in the Persecutor role, the need to be in control can secure a tight door on your self-storage unit, insisting that things be done a certain way, and usually it’s your way.
We’ve met many people who went into professions that their parents strongly encouraged and later felt like a Victim to what others wanted of them. They had no passion for their work and eventually stored their true self away, not wanting to “rock the boat” or be rejected by their spouse, partner, boss, or teammates.
What’s the cost of your “self-storage?” All too often it is the most passionate part of ourselves that we store away and don’t let others see.
David once met with a colleague at the headquarters of a large multi-national retailer. Arriving at his office, the colleague asked if they could meet in the huge cafeteria as there was a special event that he wanted to observe. It turned out that the event was a retirement recognition for the company’s very first custodian.
During the event, one executive offered a testimonial about working late one night and having the light above his desk burn out. When he called maintenance, to his surprise, this custodian answered and came right over. As he was replacing the light, he said to the executive, “I see my job as creating and maintaining an environment in which you can do your best work.” The custodian had unlocked his joyful essence and knew the purpose of his work.
This experience is one that David drew upon in casting Ted as a custodian in his book, 3 Vital Questions: Transforming Workplace Drama.
Every job can have a trivial or a noble description. If you see your role as trivial (e.g. “I am just a janitor.”) you are likely to lock your Creator essence into that metaphoric self-storage garage. The person in David’s experience clearly saw his role as a Creator as a custodian, contributing something that is noble, without regard to level or status.
Take a few moments and ponder what descriptions you would give to your roles in life (e.g. spouse, employee, friend, neighbor, leader, etc.). What would others say about you in those roles? Do you express your Creator essence in and through those relationships, or do you, in some way keep a part of yourself stored away?
As coaches we often ask; “What is possible for you given the situation?” You don’t have to unlock your self-storage unit yet, if you are not ready, but asking the question opens you to the reality that as a Creator you can choose what gifts you want to reveal to the world.