My Story

7 min read

I was born in North Tyneside, into a Roman Catholic middle-class family with strong working-class values and principles handed down from a Scottish and Irish ancestry.  I was one of five children and my parents were hard working, loved us, and always wanted the best for us.  We did not identify with any particular social class; ‘working middle class with intention to do better’ would be the best description of our family culture.

My earliest ‘learnings’ were to work hard, respect and obey authority, look good, and gain other people’s respect.  It was very important not to look stupid, to avoid making a fool of myself (even when having fun), and not be embarrassed.  Making mistakes, particularly in public, was something to be avoided at all cost as this would reduce or risk damaging the reputation we desired.,

This philosophy was of course strongly reinforced by the Roman Catholic religion.  You are instructed at an early age that you are not worthy of much as a human being, except as a creation of God who created you in his image albeit in a state of sin!  Mistakes are, in the main, treated as sins for which you need to seek forgiveness from those with authority, acting on behalf of a supreme being: “Forgive me father for I have sinned, and I am not worthy to receive you ….” repeated three times before being permitted to receive the Eucharist. No mention of ‘mistakes’ anywhere in the rituals and prayers of the Catholic religion.

So, by the time I was in my early teens I viewed myself as someone who wasn’t particularly talented, but able to work really hard, who followed the rules and didn’t expose my weaknesses, and stood a good chance of having a good life and being relatively successful.

Although I have become more conscious of this perspective much later in my life, at that time and for most of my working life I lived unconsciously in this philosophy, often struggling in it and never ever questioning it but rather. reinforcing it.  Indeed, all my successful results and decisions, of which there were many, I attributed unquestioningly to this approach, never acknowledging that it might also be significantly limiting my continued growth and transformation as a human being.

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