My Inner Guardian

When I was in an art class as a young child, I noticed that the pictures I was drawing didn’t look like those of the other students around me. I quickly decided I would avoid art at all costs, figuring that if I drew differently than other people, I must not be creative and I must not be an artist. I couldn’t be. So, because I wanted to be successful, I turned away from art.

Thinking back on my childhood experience, I now see that I was one of the youngest students in the group. My pictures simply reflected my lack of experience. That certainly did not mean I wasn’t capable of learning and growing as an artist, but my childhood mind couldn’t see that far.

As described in the introduction to the Five Aspects of Self, the Guardian is the aspect that lets me know whether I am safe in the world. It can be helpful to me, or it can hinder me, depending on whether it’s operating in an inspired state or a wonky state. My inspired Guardian lives in the present and supports my becoming. It guides me in being able to shift and respond appropriately to my current circumstances.

The Guardian grows with me as I age. Its first beliefs were created in my formative years, primarily within my family of origin and in school and other social circumstances. Based on those beliefs, the Guardian set up patterns of behavior that helped me survive in the system in which I lived when I was young. Once established, these patterns may continue to direct much of my adult life, even though my situation has changed dramatically. Unexamined or unchecked, my Guardian can rule my adult life with the guidelines formed decades earlier under very different circumstances. So, in my case, the whole time I was growing up, and for many years as an adult, I believed I wasn’t creative.

A wonky Guardian has many strategies to snare me into not trying new ways of being, living, and doing. Exaggerating risks and fears is a very common strategy for a wonky Guardian. It works hard to help me stay in my comfort zone and to avoid the anxiety provoked by uncertainty in change. I’ve begun to see how I’ve sometimes employed those same strategies to avoid something I was unsure of, had never tried, or didn’t see as possible for myself. As I explain in Birthdays of the Soul, only recently have I redefined creativity and artistry to include some of the activities I do best in my work.

In adulthood, with an inspired Guardian supporting me, I’ve learned that uncertainty need not be equated with fear. I know I can attempt, approximate, and try as I learn. I am aware that I will not always be successful and that each time I have a result—whether it is the one I wanted or not—I simply get more information. It doesn’t mean I did something wrong. My wonky Guardian wants me to believe it’s possible to control my life, but living in discovery is showing me how the events that happen unexpectedly often bring with them unexpected opportunities that I may later be grateful for.

Often we need to revisit our stories and beliefs if we are unable to live and create freely when the situation is safe. Now that I’ve reframed my story about my artistic abilities, my Guardian lets me know it’s perfectly safe to draw with abandon in the privacy of my living room. If I struggle to color outside the lines or over the lines when I am alone, my feelings around the experience offer clues to some of the old beliefs that are ruling me. I can then ask myself, “Is it okay NOW to color outside the lines?”

The answer is, “Of course!”

My inspired Guardian lives in the present and supports my becoming.

Barbara A. Bernard

© Barbara A. Bernard