The past few weeks I reflected on my birth as well as the concept of birth in general. Depending on the context of the word ‘birth’ in a sentence it can have different meanings. According to the dictionary birth can be defined as ‘ the start of life as a physical separate being’ or ‘the coming into existence of something; origin’. I realised that no matter what you are giving birth to; be it a human being, an idea, new company, creative expression or even a blog, there are certain elements that are involved in the ‘giving birth’ process that is relevant to all of them. The elements are: expectations, transition from dark into light and emotions.
To better explain I’m going to use my birth as an example and try to relate it to the birth of a new business.
- Expectations. A birth is the embodiment of numerous expectations.
I’m privileged that my mother and grandmother (96 years old) are both still alive. As part of the process on reflecting on my birth I enquired how they experienced my birth. It was so refreshing and liberating to get different perspectives on the same event. My grandmother told me that there are expectations from different sources (parents, family, community, God and ‘the self’) for the baby at birth. (I view her opinion as an expert on this field as she has given birth to five children including among them twin boys).
During our talk it became clear that we complicate our lives by trying to live up to all these expectations. Even though most of these expectations are meant well or even out of love. Others, and ourselves, exert pressure on ourselves because we see potential. Taking on unnecessary expectations in life, or at the start of a new business, burdens us. It can either inhibit us, because the pressure has become too much, or it can make us lose focus because we are trying to please everyone.
Learning: We all experience the same event differently based on our role in the situation and our expectations of it.
Healing question: How can I simplify my life and business by releasing unnecessary expectations?
- Transition from dark into light. A birth is the process of transition from darkness into the light.
Womb-time is playtime for the soul. There is no struggle for identity or acceptance by others. Usually the fetus has a safe, warm and nurturing environment wherein it can form and grow into a specific form (baby). Research indicates that the transition for the baby from the womb into the colder and a much lighter environment (the world) can be traumatic. It is, however, a critical transition phase that it needs to undergo in order to develop further on a physical and social level.
Thus, even though it may be a traumatic or scary moment for the mother and child it is also a meaningful moment. The same principle applies when you give birth to a new idea or a new business. It feels safe when we just play around with the idea in our head and design amazing business plans at our desk. But in order for the business to grow it needs to be born and become visible to the world.
Learning: Moments of transition can be traumatic AND meaningful.
Healing question: What area of my life or business needs to transition into the light so that it can grow?
- Emotions Numerous emotions are also birthed in the process of giving birth.
At birth and during the new-born period the baby starts to express different basic emotions depending on the circumstances. As a young child my nearby family and relatives told me that I was a colic baby and cried non-stop for the first three months of my life. They mentioned what a difficult and tiring period it was. I completely understand that now but my not-so well-developed emotional part of my brain interpreted it as crying is bad. People don’t like tiring or difficult peoples. From then on I struggled to cry, feel my emotions or even express them.
Thomas Keating writes in his book ‘Invitation to love’ that:
‘We may not remember the events of early childhood, but the emotions do. When events occur later in life that resemble those once felt to be harmful, dangerous or rejecting, the same feelings surface. We may not be fully aware of where the force of those feelings is coming from.’
Later in the book he continues to explain how even though we may have had the most well-intentioned parents or not experienced any serious trauma. We all have some wounds as a result of the emotional fragility experienced as a child.
I realised that my unhealthy thought pattern of ‘crying is bad’ that developed, as a child, does not serve me anymore. I’m not a child anymore and can develop healthy ways to feel and express emotions. Tears are healing and necessary. What is unhealthy is to avoid the emotion rather than allowing myself to feel it.
Starting your own business gives birth to numerous emotions: fear, anger, sadness, joy, excitement, etc. Studies showed that if we try to avoid emotions we repress it or project it onto others. This can have negative consequences on our health as well as our relationships at home and work.
Learning: By avoiding certain emotions I’m not allowing myself / my company to blossom.
Healing question: How can I allow myself to feel the different emotions that accompany life and/or the start of a new business?
Listening to the way my mother described my birth as well as the period after that it became clear how I was surrounded with love. There was a lot of care surrounding my birth. I know my family loved me in the best way they could.
I’m grateful for my birth and the life lessons that it brought forth.