“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.” – Maryanne Williamson
A friend messaged me this morning saying that she was experiencing a “vulnerability hangover” about something that she had shared in a group. I mirrored back to her similar feelings about something that I had also shared and, while we talked, it became evident that what made us feel the most vulnerable was that we had shared our successes. We had shared a strength in something that we were overcoming, and by doing so, we felt exposed.
My story growing up was that I was dumb. I don’t think that anyone told me that story but my sisters were exceptionally smart and I was seen as the “people” person. All of my adult life I’ve felt inadequate around “educated” people. I would shrink in academic conversation – every once in awhile sticking in something that hopefully sounded a bit smart??? – while thinking that I was a complete idiot and they must be thinking the same thing. Going to school for counselling was terrifying for me and with each class I was sure that my instructor would see how dumb I really was. But it never happened. Academically I excelled and with this “success” I began to see myself in a new story. I am smart. I’m not stupid and I do have valuable things to add to conversations. With this realization also came fear. Staying small, quiet (yah I know everyone is laughing at me using that word) and hidden meant that I couldn’t disappoint others. Being exposed is a double edged sword.
As the conversation with my friend unfolded I was struck by the reality of what we were saying. Our stories, our inadequacies, our traumas, our broken parts are our ARMOUR. Some we have chosen for ourselves, some were told to us by others, and some have been brutally forced upon us. We may desperately want to let them go, but we may also be desperately afraid of letting them go. Without our armour we have no excuse to not shine.
As children we learned to protect ourselves from the uncomfortable feelings of rejection, dismissal, anger shame etc. We made ourselves small so that we couldn’t be noticed, we made ourselves helpful so that we couldn’t be punished. We hid, we faked, we went deep inside ourselves – essentially doing whatever it took to feel safe. This protective mechanism kept us alive when faced with real or perceived dangers, and safe when we didn’t always feel that the big people in our lives could protect us. But as we grew, these mechanisms held us back. They limit our chance at being hurt but they also limit our chance at greatness. In that way they no longer serve us.
I hear women so often saying that they are scared to sit in the Bodysex circle because they are afraid to face their own reality. Afraid that once they take off their armour – their clothing and their stories – they won’t be able to be small anymore. It is a valid fear and one that comes at a real cost. Not everyone will be okay with your greatness and many will feel insecure around you. But this is only because they’re afraid of their own greatness and of being reminded that they are holding back from it as well. Realizing and actualizing our greatness doesn’t mean that we no longer have the less great parts. I’m perfect testament to that. I fuck up daily and maybe sometimes I fuck up to have a reason to hide – reason to not do this work, and to run. Or maybe I fuck up just cause I’m human. Who knows.
But what I do know is that sitting naked in the Bodysex circle is a profound act of bravery and in doing so you will be changed forever. In that circle you aren’t the victim, you are just you. By simply being ourselves – “liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” See you in the circle.