“If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all!”
You most likely heard this from teachers and parents as a youngster navigating friendships and pushing boundaries. I did. It’s quite the mantra to live by, and we readily accept that kindness towards others plays an important role in social cohesion.
When it comes to being kind to ourselves, however, we often lack the ability to see how negative our own self-talk can be. It can put you in a state of paralysis and lead you away from opportunities which would enable you to fulfil your potential.
Imagine; there’s a new role being created at work, you’d love to be considered for it and you download the application form. You’re confident that you tick 9 out of the 10 prequisites plus you know you have additional skills and experience which would benefit this role but on reading ‘confidently presents findings’ as part of the person specification, you’re left feeling cold. Instead of remembering the time you successfully conquered your nerves to speak at a charity event or when you spectacularly overcame your fear of heights through positive reinforcement and breathing techniques, your brain implements defcon 1 and prompts you to prepare for ultimate failure.
A brain in Defcon 1 status will override all positive thoughts of strength and experience to dutifully recall in minute detail an associated painful memory. It might be the feelings of embarrassment and shame at stammering when reading aloud in 3rd grade making Jonny Best snigger so hard snot came out of his nose. It might be the vivid memory your 10 year old self with such severe stage-fright you thought you were about to throw up at a ballet rectal.
A brain in Defcon 1 asserts that you’re not overly confident even speaking up in meetings, so presenting would be impossible.
So you take the action which protects you from potential pain; you don’t put in the application. You tell yourself that you’d hate for your colleagues to think you had ideas above your station and you love your current job so you’re not really bothered anyway.
My challenge to you would be to take stock before allowing the negative self-sabotage to take you away from living the life of your dreams. If you believe that the right course of action is to hide away and refuse to shine in case you are seen as too pushy, too big for our boots or too vain, then take note from a beautiful quote from renowned author Marianne Williamson;
“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”
by Marianne Williamson
So the next time you see something you want, take it. Talk over your inner doubts and remember; you have an absolute duty to shine your unique light in this world and be an inspiration to those around you.
Speak kindly and shine bright x