By Michael Kimmel | Life Beyond Therapy
Recently, I went to a big, fancy dinner at a friend’s house. There were about 18 people there, and as far as I know, I was the only LGBT person at the table. I was talking with this really interesting straight woman and the topic turned to being gay (don’t ask me how). She looked me in the eye and asked me, “What is unique about being gay? What gifts do you bring to the world that straight people don’t?”
I was impressed with the question and it stuck with me. I’d like to address it in this column. This column isn’t your typical column — in it, you will be invited to visualize, meditate, make up a myth about yourself and fantasize yourself as a warrior. So relax, sit back and enjoy!
A gift is a special ability, capacity or talent. It’s given voluntarily without an expected payment in return. It is something bestowed or acquired without being sought or earned by the receiver.
What are your gifts?
This is quite a deep question. You might like to “sit with it” (as meditators say) for a day or two and give it some thought. You can write down your gifts or just contemplate them in your mind. If you’re stuck, this may help: What have people said that’s positive/good/great about you? I invite you to go below the superficial and allow your most powerful gifts to rise to your consciousness. Be willing to be surprised.
Now, I’d like you to tell a story: “The Story of Me.”
It starts like this: Once there was a little boy/girl who _________________. Make up a myth about yourself. Allow it to unfold in your mind and — regardless of where you are in your life now — give the story a happy ending. In the story, allow yourself to be the person you’ve always wanted to be: Let your life be like a fairy tale. This is your story, so tell it however you like and see yourself as you’ve never seen yourself before.
If you’d like, you can tell someone who loves you this story, or you can tell yourself the story. It’s especially interesting if you look in the mirror when you tell the story to yourself. It makes it much more real.
Next question: What stops me from exercising my gifts?
Name three of your biggest obstacles. See them as dragons. Now, imagine yourself as a fierce warrior from your favorite sci-fi movie. Close your eyes and imagine the dragons attacking you. You, great warrior that you are, have a mighty sword that can easily vanquish any dragon. In your mind, slay your dragons/obstacles, one by one. As you slay each dragon, name it as you cut its head off. Well done!
Next question: When do my gifts most easily flow?
Close your eyes and think of a time when everything just fell into place and people appreciated you and all you had to give; a time when simply being yourself was absolutely perfect. Remember all the details. If you like, think of another time when people were grateful for you just being you.
Last question: What can I do now to share my gifts with the world around me?
After doing these visualizations and answering the questions, odds are that most of what’s on your list of gifts are things you’ve known about for a long time. Ditto for the obstacles to expressing them. So, rather than pretend that it’s all easy and requires no work to give your gifts, let’s admit that it’s an ongoing process and it takes time and energy.
I encourage you to identify your gifts and put yourself in situations where it’s relatively easy to share them. Start with people who love you (a sure thing), then, once you’ve had some practice, move to people you don’t know.
It can be scary to give your gifts. Someone might have once made fun of them, mocked you, or put you down when you expressed them. If so, congratulations, you’re normal!
Some of us have hidden our gifts for so long that we may not be sure they’re still down there in that box in the basement, or up in the attic.
Well, my friends, maybe it’s time to come out of yet another closet. Maybe it’s time to realize your gifts.
The world is waiting.
—Michael Kimmel is a licensed psychotherapist who specializes in helping LGBT clients achieve their goals and deal with anxiety, depression, grief, sexually addictive behavior, coming out, relationship challenges and homophobia. Contact him at 619-955-3311 or visit lifebeyondtherapy.com.