“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…” – Marianne Williamson
What immediately came to mind as you read the header quote? Is there any relevance for its meaning in your own life?
Marianne Williamson’s quote, which I have purposely abbreviated, remains one of the most significant works from the world acclaimed spiritual activist. Over the years, the poem has been mistakenly credited to Nelson Mandela’s inauguration speech.
Marianne Williamson suggests it is not our darkness which we are afraid of; rather our magnificence. We are unwilling to reveal our brilliance in the event others are made to feel inferior. This is relevant given the dynamics of peer pressure and cultural dynamics nowadays. We feel safe playing small and blending in with the masses, since it shifts the spotlight off us. The questions and self-doubts may arise; “What if I am not good enough?” “What if I’m found out?” “There are others who are better than I am.”
This is most evident in Australian culture which epitomises the tall poppy syndrome. Whilst there is merit in the notion of a level playing field, culturally speaking our values and beliefs were formed during colonial times. Mate-ship and kinship were key aspects of our cultural heritage. Yet, this comes at a price. Many people fear revealing their uniqueness may be culturally inappropriate. We are continually reminded throughout the media that the tall poppy syndrome is alive and well in today’s society. Turning your back on your mates is considered un-Australian to some.
Yet playing small never serves anyone, especially yourself. You are unique in so many ways and your gifts and talents are a unique expression of universal energy coursing through you. To deny others of your gifts and talents may be likened to a tree refusing to bear fruit in season, since it doubts its source of intelligence.
I draw your attention to the famous inventor, Thomas Edison. Had he withheld his invention of the electric light bulb, we would be living in darkness these days. Another steward of notable inventions was none other than Benjamin Franklin, an accomplished printer and inventor. His famous Franklin stove may well have been patented had he chosen to do so. Instead he donated his time and money on the project with the intention of giving it away, believing it would benefit many people.
We doubt our magnificence since it directly coincides with self-esteem. Self-doubt is toxic and debilitating, as it serves to convince you of your unworthiness. It is the silent voice within that we fear and judge our self-worth by.
We are frightened of our personal power given the self-doubt which rears its ugly head from an early age. It is estimated that by the time you are seventeen years old you will have heard the word “NO, you can’t” an average of 150,000 times. In contrast you will have heard, “Yes, you can” approximately 5,000 times. It is no wonder we have been inured with disempowering beliefs about success.
You are entitled to goodness, abundance and life’s wondrous pleasures. It is there waiting for you to claim it. Instead, we internalise a script that informs us otherwise. We honour this script and forget about our true potential; our future vision and goals. Brazilian author Paulo Coelho reminds us about honouring our personal legend in his acclaimed novel, The Alchemist.
You are not depriving others of greatness by playing small. Marianne Williamson’s poem goes on to say, “…Your playing small doesn’t serve the world… as we let our own light shine we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.” As you claim and step into your glory, you allow others to see the possibility of attaining the same freedom. It is for this reason that we applaud and salute the underdog. We identify with them as the battler since it is embedded into our Australian culture to thrive and succeed.
There is a battler, an underdog within us all waiting to appear. We unconsciously hold ourselves down convinced of our unworthiness in order to remain in the darkness. Remaining on the side-lines is safe since we cannot be judged, labelled or criticised there. Playing safe never serves anyone, let alone yourself. Leadership expert and speaker Robin Sharma suggests that “If people aren’t laughing at your dreams, they’re not big enough.”
I wish to remind you of the baby elephant principle which sums up the truth of fears. Baby elephants in captivity are chained at the leg to a small wooden peg in the ground. As they mature to full size, they are capable of breaking free from the chain given their relative size. Yet as adults they remain tethered to the chain, conditioned to believe it has the power to hold them captive. In some ways our lives mimic the behaviour of adult elephants. Many of us form limiting beliefs during childhood which keep us imprisoned as adults.
In order to overcome your deepest fear, acknowledge your inner being – that is your spiritual self. Allow it passage through you and throughout your life. Connect with life at the soul level, instead of intellectualising it. Your soul is boundless and not defined by limitations.
As you identify with your soul nature, it becomes effortless as you reveal your talents and genius to the world. Fear is an illusion which deprives you of your power. It stifles your growth and convinces you of your unworthiness – it limits your potential. Your soul nature is infinite by contrast, unbound by time or space.
Learn to think in terms of limitless possibilities – acknowledge your inner richness. Once you make an inner declaration toward greatness, the universe acknowledges it by bringing forth opportunities which allow your magnificence to shine.
You must take the lead. You must take the first step toward claiming your own power.