Sunday, January 24th, 2021

R Shopper Columns


There is a story of a man who wanted to be a painter. He loved the artwork that he saw in the museums. They inspired him enough to go to an art academy. At the academy, he learned about all the beautiful colors that were at his disposal. He also learned about all the different paintbrushes and how to use them. His time at the academy was a wonderful experience. After his graduation, he found it difficult to get a job or make a living as an artist. Finally, he settled for a job painting stop signs.

All he needed to paint the stop signs were two colors: red and white. To paint the colors on the signs, all he needed were two brushes. Here he had all the colors in the world at his disposal, but in order to do his job, he just needed two colors. After a while, he forgot about the other colors. He just focused on his job. He did not have to use the different colors or brushes in order to get the job done. Life became routine and rather dull for him until one day, a teacher came into his life. She reminded him of the many beautiful colors and how to paint them with the various brushes. His life's canvas, which consisted only of two colors, was now becoming a beautiful canvas with the colors of the rainbow.

Many of us sell ourselves short…

We are too insecure

to push ourselves

to bring out our hidden talents

When I transfer this story to life, we sometimes let other people tell us what colors we should use on our lives' canvas. They can limit or squash our desire to use other colors. When I was in elementary school, I was in a music class. I like singing, and one time during the class, I was singing, thinking I was doing a good job. To my dismay and embarrassment, the teacher stopped the class and told me not to sing. That closed the door for me, and I developed the belief that I had no talent for singing. Looking back at this story, I could have taken singing lessons but didn't.

Many of us sell ourselves short. Although there are many reasons, perhaps, one might be insecurity. We are too insecure to push ourselves to bring out our hidden talents and gifts. Perhaps, our beliefs stop us from picking up a new paintbrush and trying different colors. So we hide our abilities, talents, gifts, and intellect. Maybe one of our beliefs is since we cannot be the best, we will not try. Or we believe our gifts are not enough.

I hope there have been people in our lives who have shown us all the colors and brushes available to us. And I hope we have been the people who have helped others paint their life's canvas with the colors of the rainbow.

Dr. William E. Austin is a licensed psychotherapist and holds a Doctor of Divinity degree. He is a therapist with Tidewater Pastoral Counseling Services . He is well known for his warmth and sense of humor. His book, Creating Our Safe Place - Articles on Healthy Relationships, can be purchased through

Tidewater Pastoral Counseling: 623-2700