”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 is not just in some of us; it is 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.”
Marianne Williamson (quoted by Nelson Mandella, 1994 Inaugural Speech)
I got goosebumps the first time I heard this. I remember feeling moved and my eyes filling with emotional tears. “Really?” I said to myself, “really?” I felt inadequate so much of the time, and good enough let alone powerful were not then in my lexicon. I’m grateful to say hard work in the decades since has changed my inner landscape yet I still resonate deeply with that sense of duality: I’m inadequate and yet I also have gifts and skills to share, which I’m grateful to do in my work as a therapeutic-coach.
Marianne Williamson’s “our deepest fear” is one of my favourite quotes yet I hesitate to offer it sometimes because the word “God” appears several times. I know some will read this literally, reflecting their belief system, and others may ditch the whole piece because it jars so much. I tend to go with either “the God of my understanding” (the way twelve-step programs use the word) and sometimes “Higher Power” (which feels fluid and open to interpretation moment to moment).
There’s something deeply challenging about holding the duality of “adequate” and “inadequate.” In fact, any duality, not just this one. Am I good or bad? Sensitive or oblivious? What I’ve come to learn is that we all have dualities and feeling more settled in ourselves emanates from being able to hold them both. Yes, I’m sensitive and yes, I can also be oblivious. That does’t mean I’m bad and wrong (even if a part of me affirms this by offering a sucker punch to the solar plexus occasionally), instead an invitation is offered to stay aware of both my sensitivity and my obliviousness. (I have to be honest, my deepest fear feels less like being powerful and much more like being oblivious to others. Both my parents were naturally deeply oblivious, so I know it’s in me too….)
Studying Eugene Gendlin’s focusing process has been the modality most useful to me in this endeavour. He acknowledges we’re made up of a spectacular array of parts, all of which shape our interactions moment to moment. It’s only when we have awareness of which part is driving us that we begin to have choice about our actions and the possibility of self-acceptance
Curious? Do contact me to take the conversation further.