Many years ago, my grandmother mailed to me a singular excerpt from Marianne Williamson's book "A Return to Love." While I wasn't familiar with the poem within it, "Our Deepest Fear," the words jumped off the paper on first sight. It was a turbulent time in my life. I still remember pulling it from the envelope, seeing the paper it was printed on, cut with jagged edges from whatever paper it came from. The words were like salve. It was just what I needed at the time.
No matter your spiritual/religious belief system, I encourage you to read Marianne Williamson's poem with an open mind and see what aspects speak to you. If you are not religious or prefer to think of yourself as more of a spiritual creature, you might replace the word "God" with the word spirit. In most every culture, humans recognize a spiritual aspect to our existence. When we feel deeply or have intuition at work, it is not our bodies that are first stirred. It is our spirit...Find the poem here below:
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's 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're liberated from our own fear, Our presence automatically liberates others.
Note: This inspiring poem is taken from Marianne Williamson's book A Return to Love. Though often quoted as part of Nelson Mandela's moving inaugural speech, "Our Deepest Fear" does not appear in the speech. Marianne Williamson herself has commented on this mistaken attribution. For Marianne's website, click here.
Even still, it reminds me of the Zen proverb, "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear." Who among us can say that our world doesn't look clearer in hindsight? Sometimes that means one night of sleep and sometimes it looks like a decade or two. Sometimes, and more often than not, it means that we have to pass through some turbulence before we can appreciate our fears and what they represent. Not unlike yourself and anyone else in life, I had been through the turbulence and was unknowingly waiting for guidance.
As a clinician, I am a BIG fan of getting up close and personal with our Inner Critics. The best self-awareness comes from confronting what scares us most. That's why the work feels so difficult to tackle sometimes. Expressing ourselves in the safe holding space of a therapists office is the closest we can come to getting in touch with ourselves sometimes.
The interesting part is that when a light is shone on our Critic, the part of us that holds onto our deepest fears with a vice-like grip, we forget that our Critic is just trying to help us make it through this life. It tells us to be "be careful" and "don't make mistakes" because it reminds us of the last time we messed up or got hurt. The message ends up being "avoid hurt at all costs!" So, we see that somewhere along the way, our best intentions turn into internalized criticism. Our best efforts at protecting ourselves look like inner dialogue that, at times, can be unrelenting. We fear that our inadequacies will leave us abandoned by others or worse, proving that our childhood bullies were right after all. We forget where these messages started and fail to realize is that our Critics are trying to prevent us from getting hurt like we did once. So, we stay in our lane, keep our heads down and try to anticipate failure so that we don't actually ever fail. What kind of life does this lead to? One of not trying. Because we are afraid of what might happen.
Check in with yourself. Your thoughts. Take a moment and scan what's coming up for you. Do you now feel more human and spiritual? Do you feel a sense of connectedness, knowing that you aren't alone? Do you feel a little more seen and heard? Like Gandhi, I encourage you to "be the change you wish to see in the world" and know that I'm behind you. The next choice you make... The next interaction you have with someone, ask yourself who are you not to be everything you want to see? Change doesn't come from being comfortable and avoiding mistakes. It comes from the ownership of making the mistakes so that you can learn from them and be everything you hoped you could be in this life.
I wish you a lovely rest of your day. Know that I wish you light and love.