“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.”
~ Marianne Williamson
Do you ever have days when you feel inadequate or like you’ve somehow failed? Years ago I read this quote by Marianne Williamson and it’s stuck with me on those days where I just want to close in or shut down. She calls it “playing small.” It’s a great expression because that’s how it feels. Because I think in images as well as words, when I play small I am a bird with a wounded wing sitting quietly in the hopes no one will notice me.
It’s amazing to me how quickly feeling small can happen at times. It can come over me in a flash some days. A few careless words or treatment I perceive to be unjust or unkind… a painful memory… not feeling good enough. Who knows. Some days I just feel vulnerable.
But just as easily I can start humming and singing the song of my heart. I can be vulnerable and EXUBERANT! Unsure and STRONG! What the divine Ms. Marianne Williamson calls ‘Letting our own Light Shine.”
As a student of mindfulness, I try to experience and understand these powerful shifts. But often I wonder — is it just me who ping pongs like this?
Recently I returned from 3 weeks in France doing all the things that I love. Being with one of my dearest friends, walking ALL day, exploring and walking in the path of history. I was on top of the world, feeling like I’d come back to myself after giving so much to others during the ceremonial season.
And then the proverbial house of cards crashed in on me for the same-old same-old boring reasons.
But here’s the remarkable thing: I saw it happening! I consciously experienced feeling small in my body. It was like a hangover. Here’s what I did to let my light shine again.
- Dropped and meditated: Q: Where did I feel it in my body? A: Gut. Q: What would it be like to not feel it? A: Lighter. Easier. Less Painful. Q: If I dropped it and chose serenity instead, what would that feel like? Answer: FREE.
- Got dressed in a funky outfit that was fun to put together, in the colours I like, and my boots that cost my first born child but make me feel AWESOME.
- Chose to omit things from my day that were hard and instead did things that I am good at. (Benefits of self-employment)
- Reached out to someone new that I’d like to get to know better and made a date to get together. (If it was an old friend I would have whined and complained.)
- End of day result: Shining FULL ON.
It takes time and practice to learn these skills and commitment to do them. But with mindfulness and the conscious transformation of the thoughts that are just that- thoughts – I feel my my light. I feel my innate shinyness. And I am not shrinking!
Yes, it is true. Playing small does not serve. Me or the world.