Let Your Light Shine
Why Downplaying Your Wins Doesn't Help Anyone!
By Joshua Wayne
Published September 7th, 2010
I wrote an article a week or so ago that generated a lot of positive feedback. The title was "What You Think of Me Is None of My Business", and it was about living without apology. You can read that article by clicking HERE
One specific piece of feedback really piqued my interest, and I wanted to build on the previous article by addressing it. Here it is:
“So much of the time, you will belittle yourself so that a friend doesn't feel bad. For example, you wont talk about how great your relationship is, because you don't want to make someone feel bad that they aren't in one or in a good one.
If someone says you look thin, maybe you start to complain about your thighs. You always want to make the 'underdog' feel good. And you really think you are doing the RIGHT thing. But the problem is..... you end up buying into this "downtalk", you never talk yourself up, never really fully embrace your successes. It's almost like your successes are your own dirty little secret.
There was a Gossip Girl episode, of a friendship where the hot pretty one "Serena" constantly put herself down so that her "Less than" friend (Blair) always felt better about herself. But her "less than" friend (Blair) almost took advantage of it, and would start to put her down too. Then Serena made a different friendship, with another hot pretty girl (Poppy) who had her own world and wasn't threatened by Serena's popularity, attractiveness and success. She gave Serena some advice - you're not doing anyone any favors by not letting your own light shine.”
Wow! I've never watched Gossip Girl, but that's a pretty potent lesson from a TV show that a lot of people belittle for being so superficial!
There is nothing wrong with feeling good, celebrating your successes or being happy and expressing it. I think the real question is, "what is your motivation for doing it?"
We all know people who love to show off, brag and inflate their own self-worth by coming off as cool in front of others. If that is your motivation, then the truth is it won't every really bring you happiness, because your happiness is dependent on how others are responding to you. Ultimately that's a losing equation because at some point you will no longer be the flavor o the week, people will lose interest in you and you’ll be left with nothing. Or you'll just have to go find more superficial people who are impressed by superficial things.
On the other hand, your motivation can very reasonably be to express your happiness about what is going well in your life simply because it makes you feel good. As the comment above suggests, if you're stifling, censoring or putting yourself down because you don't want to make others feel bad, you're not doing them any favors either.
In fact, you're doing them a different set of injustices:
· You are depriving them of having the opportunity to see what you are doing that is making your life better and happier. Maybe there is something they can learn from what you’re doing.
· You are depriving them of the opportunity to confront their own jealousy issues. True jealousy, to me, is not worrying about how your boyfriend might be looking at his co-workers. It's a deeper thought pattern of feeling threatened by somebody else's success or happiness. In a sense you could summarize jealousy as one of two things: 'your happiness causes me to be unhappy” or “your unhappiness causes me to be happy'.
We’ve all had the experience of secretly gloating when others come up short – or fail miserably. It temporarily makes our own struggles seem less significant. It makes us feel that we're not alone, or that at least somebody has it worse than me! When you don't let your light shine, you are depriving others of confronting this negative thought process in themselves. It might seem like you're temporarily helping them, but in the long-term you're really not.
· You're depriving them of the opportunity to come to terms with their own frustrations and unhappiness – and possibly make an overdue change. Seeing your positivity may be EXACTLY what they need – even if it causes them some distress in the short-term.
Think about it: why should you deprive yourself from enjoying your life? Why should you censor and hold yourself back? If you have good things happening in your life, why wouldn't you want to enjoy, appreciate and savor the moments?
Life is too short and unpredictable to take the good stuff for granted. You should be grateful for the good things you have, not protecting others from having to own up about where they are in their lives.
And, if the people around you can't go along for the ride, maybe you need to reevaluate the value of those friendships. If you have people around you who need you to lower the "success signal" you broadcast until it matches their own so they don't feel bad, ask yourself if those are the people you really want to have in your life?
I'm going to close with a great quote – one of my favorites:
"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 frightens us most. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and famous?' 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 people won't feel insecure around you. 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 all of us. And when 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."
- Nelson Mandela in his inaugural address, 1994
It's hard to imagine the point being made any more beautifully than this. If you're holding yourself back, then stop doing it. You're not doing yourself or anybody else any favors. Celebrate the good things you have going on in your life – and that message should apply to ALL of us by the way. Most of us far too often and easily focus on the things that aren't working rather than the things that are positive.
If that sounds like you, it's time to upgrade your attitude and to LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE!
Joshua Wayne is the co-creator of the PEERtrainer Point of No Return Program, which is designed to help people make postive and permanent changes in their life. The program focuses on developing the mental and physical strength needed to lose weight on a more permanent basis. The program also focuses on the specific eating strategies that will lead to weight loss and increased energy.
The program is broken out into monthly segments which are priced at $32 per segment on a pay as you go basis. The first monthly segment is priced at $1 to allow people to experience the program on a risk-free basis. The program is delivered via email, and consists primarily of downloadable audio files which you listen to each week. To start the program click here.