are you ready to strip it off?

"Is there something sneaking up behind me?" "No, dear, just keep smiling!"

Has it been a while since you’ve loved what you’ve done with the place?

Consider this photo, if you will. Allow me to mention how accomplished and capable these individuals are: two physicists, and a famous actress! At an honors ceremony, at the Smithsonian!

But the first thing I noticed (and, I’m betting, the first thing you saw, too) was not the intended subject of the picture.

It was that wallpaper.

Eye-jarring and painful to look at. Distracting. And these fine people seem not to even notice it’s there.

Have you stopped seeing the ugly wallpaper on the walls in your life?

Have you become numb to something that just no longer works for you? Are there grungy, outdated spots in the house of your Self that you just don’t notice anymore?

When you chose that pattern it was a better idea – clean, fresh, new. In fashion. Perhaps when you started doing things “a certain way,” or relating to people, or yourself, in that particular setting, it made sense. It was right for who you were, at that time.

Wallpaper’s hard to take down once it’s up, though. When our lives or tastes or needs change, that stuff is still hanging there, getting dingy and peeling off. Getting less-than-fresh. It may seem easy to just paper over it, or paint it. Easy, but definitely not a good idea in the long run.

So, we just stop seeing the ugly wallpaper altogether.

Occasionally it’ll give us a bit of a twinge and we even consider doing some of the heavy work that’s gonna be necessary to have a calm, clear and inviting space again. A space that we feel good about sharing with others.

But we’re not ready for the heavy work, so we decide to live exist with it and say “it’s not that bad.” We stop living in that room. We stop letting others into that room.


Because we go into others’ spaces and see their ugly wallpaper, quite clearly: “holy velvet-flocked poke-in-the-eye, what were you thinking?!?” (hey, I was a kid in the 70’s – and I Have Seen It.) We know, instinctively, that if we are so distracted by the ugly stuff that we can’t see the lovely people, then… our ugly stuff is probably keeping other people from seeing the lovely us, too.

Are you trying harder and harder to get someone to see your loveliness – and can’t understand why they don’t?

Is it time to think about stripping off some wallpaper?

Yes? (“Yes.”)

That wasn’t easy, I know: my own history of “don’t go in there!!” wallpapers would’ve filled a sample book. Saying “yes” – admitting that you really do see that Something-Ugly-Right-There-Hangs – means acknowledging that there will be heavy work to come and maybe a bit of a mess during the remodeling.

Saying “yes” also does this wonderful and unexpected thing: it draws people’s eyes away from the walls. And back to lovely You.

They know that you know, and that allows you a little space to breathe. And to – gently, at your right pace – consider what comes next.

[next in this series: Should it Stay or Should It Go, Now?]

6 thoughts on “are you ready to strip it off?

  1. Okay, I have to start by saying I love the pic as the metaphor to kick off this post. And, I feel as though I had this conversation with someone recently about how there are so many parts of our lives where we “front” and all the anxiety that such fronting can cause. So…the question I have is what’s that first step to start scraping off the wallpaper after saying “yes.”


    • Hola and Aloha, R-MB! Ya, that pic was quite the find!
      I want to tell you that your comment – particularly in regards to “fronting” – sparked a number of trains of thought for me and also helped clarify the direction I want to go with this series (yes, it will be a series, so I promise to answer your question about the first step in an upcoming post.)
      I felt strongly that my Ugly Wallpaper metaphor, while it does have a very specific meaning for me, would have different meanings for others in the context of their own lives, so I left it a bit non-specific; after pondering your comment, though, I realized that I DO need to state my own meaning for the sake of clarity in future posts.
      For me, the Ugly Wallpaper specifically represents our own habits and beliefs (and protective and defense mechanisms) we’ve kept, perhaps for a lifetime, that no longer serve us and that, in fact, hamper our growth and well-being. Our numbness to them – their residence in our “blind spots” – keeps them hidden from us, but not from the rest of the world. And they are very personal. (We may share similar wallpapers with others, especially family members, but they are there all the same and it is up to us to see them and decide what to do about them.)
      So, in this context, I would say “fronting” is the equivalent of saying “don’t go in there!” I see it as a defense or protection of sorts; a distraction to throw others off the track of seeing a part of your Self you’re not comfortable showing. The accompanyng anxiety results from the sheer amount of energy required in being ever-vigilant. Put it back into the metaphor of home: isn’t it easier to just keep people away altogether than have to worry about closing certain parts off or freak about what they’re thinking? There you go. When you DO the clearing and ‘redecorating’, though, the defensiveness and fronting are no longer necessary. A non-issue. (ah, peace!)
      Thanks for your comment, and Thanks! for “forcing” clarity in my position!
      Aloha 😉 Kathleen


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