Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Who Are We Not To Be Great? Or I Had A Chat With The Voices Inside My Head.

Ever since my post yesterday morning about Susan Boyle (check out this follow-up piece on the Britain's Got Talent website), I can't stop thinking about not only how others judge us, but how we judge ourselves. I don't know about you, but I know that I am my harshest critic.

We each have a little tape recorder in our heads that records the stuff we say to ourselves and that others say to us and can be triggered anytime to either lift us up or drag us down. And remarkably, this tape recorder in our brains never loses anything or erases the tape by accident. At any moment, for example, you can recall the time your grandmother told you you'd get fat if you had a second serving of something in front of the entire family at Christmas. Of course, you can also instantly recall the first time he said those three powerful words that rocked your world, "I love you." Or you can remember how you felt when you reached the top of that figurative (or literal) mountain you struggled to climb.

As I was thinking about Susan Boyle in the shower this morning (okay, all you perverts, and you know who you are, just stop), I started to think about how she never gave up on her dreams and clearly didn't hear or notice what others said or thought about her. I thought about how much I admire that quality.

I wondered if and how that intense focus related to my own life. I didn't have to think very long. I received ample evidence milliseconds later. You see, I have two dreams of my own that after many years of wonder and hope and work are beginning to show signs of coming true. As I stood there in my shower, that little tape recorder inside my brain started to play. "Why do you think you are talented?" "What makes you think anyone will care?" "You're not smart enough or good enough or pretty enough." And on and on. You probably know the drill.

But today, after having watched Susan Boyle, my brain snapped back into action and shut off the negative tape recorder. Instead, I heard a new tape. "Actually, who are you NOT to be talented and gifted and smart and pretty?" "Who are you trying to make feel better by not living up to your potential and achieving all your dreams?" And I remembered that famous Marianne Williamson quote that is often mistakenly attributed to Nelson Mandela.

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. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.A Return To Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles, Marianne Williamson, Harper Collins, 1992. From Chapter 7, Section 3 (Pg. 190-191).

So today, I challenge not only myself but you to remember that we are all put here to achieve our own greatness. It does no one any good for us to play small. I know how my life will be different now that my fear is gone. I know because I've seen the possibilities and I'm ready for them to become my reality.

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