Marianne Williamson said: “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. 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. Its not just in some of us; its in everyone. And as we let our own lights shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others”.
I read that quote several times over. It struck a bit of a chord. How much have I been holding back from others, when actually I’m holding back from myself.
Bizarrely my first thought was about Henry VIII and when he first started to flex his muscle in his Tudor court. Thomas More had once counselled Thomas Cromwell that by all means tell the king what he ought to do but never tell Henry what he was able to do “for if a lion knew his own strength, had were it for any man to rule him“.
Over the last 20 or so years I’ve been told numerous times how I could achieve greater things if only I had self belief and confidence. It seems others see in us what we don’t, or are reluctant to see.
My imposter syndrome often holds me back. The fear that I’ll be found out as a fraud and totally incompetent. Sometimes the words or actions of others has held me back. Whether they don’t believe I could succeed, or they don’t want me to succeed.
There are still certain people who hold that power over me and I can feel myself physically shrinking. Their tone of voice and ability to make me feel I’ve done something wrong even when I had nothing to do with it, can make me crawl under a rock and hide. Then I tend to shut down because anything I say from here on in is going to be shouted down. Even when I’m absolutely right about something, the other person’s responses can make me question myself. Even when they’ve googled it, found that I was correct, they still don’t back down or admit I was right.
There are some occasions now where I’m flexing my inner lioness. When I absolutely know I’m right, sometimes I will stay and argue my point. But there are times when I feel its really not worth it, so I’ll shut down. If it makes the other person feel better about themselves to try to be superior, even when they’re wrong, there’s no point in challenging it.
More recently I’ve been trying ways to crawl out from under my rock by acknowledging my own preferences and saying no when I don’t want to do something, watch something, or go somewhere, both at home, work and in my social sphere. I’ve started to read, watch and do things that I might actually find some joy in.
I have also started to become more vocal and confident about things that challenge my values and beliefs. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not shouting from the rooftops or banging my drum, but beginning to recognise where I can have some control over my own decisions, rather than doing what everyone else wants.
I might not be ready to roar just yet, but my growl is getting louder.
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