Good day, team.
“Playing small doesn’t 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.”
Marianne Williamson, spiritual activist, author, lecturer and founder of The Peace Alliance
My sister sent me this wonderful quote a few months ago, and it’s been on my mind this week. It reminds me of how often I worry about what others think and stop myself from realizing my full potential. Maybe it’s because I don’t want to offend someone I’m working with or I’m in a situation where I don’t want to outshine a family member. Sometimes I find myself holding back information or actions because I’m afraid of taking up someone else’s space or because I don’t want to attract envy or jealously. Whatever it is, I realize that it happens more often than I’d like. This kind of consideration to others is based on fear rather than inspiration or love.
This weekend, on the other hand, I was reminded of how children can really shine. We had friends visiting us at our home in the Columbia River Gorge. They brought their daughter and one of her close friends. So we had the delightful experience of having two lovely, incredibly curious, intelligent 10-year-old children to keep us company.
Saturday nights with guests in the gorge have become story night. That is, after dinner we all go into the living room, sit around in a circle and tell stories. They can be sad or happy, frightening or inspirational, about every day occurrences or great adventures we’ve had in our past. I’m always amazed at how interesting and creative people’s stories are — and how much fun it is to hear them!
As we listened to the stories of our 10-year-old visitors, we saw them shine in our candlelit circle. One minute, we were holding our sides from laughing so hard as Bella told us the story of the most embarrassing event in her life, and in the next moment, we were held in close attention as Estelle told us a story about an adventure she had at camp last summer. In both cases, these girls shone in their ability to recount their stories of humor and life lessons.
Listening to the children share their stories allowed the adults to free themselves from shyness or an unwillingness to participate. In the girls’ uninhibited way of allowing their stories to flow through them, they allowed the rest of us to do the same. It made for a wonderful night of sharing, laughter and tear-filled eyes, while we opened ourselves up to one of the oldest traditions in the world — storytelling.
This week, try not to worry so much about what other people think of what you’re saying or doing. I’m talking about the low hum of constant internal chatter that often says, “What will they think of me if I say that?” or “Maybe I’ll just not say anything at this point and let it be” — even if you know that your suggestion might be helpful. Try not to allow those thoughts to prevail. Make an effort to have a more courageous conversation or take a bold action rather than shrink from the opportunity.
If you have children or grandchildren around you, notice how their eyes shine when they tell you a story, whether it’s true or not! Think about how we all have that childlike desire to hear a good story or tell someone a tale that holds their attention for a few moments. Although we live in a culture that seems to prefer hearing and watching stories on television, try making time to share stories together. It’s not only empowering, giving each person an opportunity to have a voice, but it’s also very entertaining.
Have a good week!
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