"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, handsome, talented and 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 within us.
It is not just in some; it is in everyone.
"And, as we let our own light shine, we consciously give
other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our fear,
our presence automatically liberates others."
-Marianne Williamson, A Return To Love: Reflections on the Principles of "A Course in Miracles," 1990
Do you let your deepest fears of "shining your light" debilitate you?
In psychological terms, fear may be defined as “an intense emotional state caused by specific external stimuli and associated with avoidance, self-defense and escape.” Fear is one of the primary human emotions. Fear generally refers to feelings created by tangible and realistic dangers which arise out of proportion to the actual threat, meaning that fear is quite often an unfounded emotional response with no basis in reality.
In a biological sense, fear is related to death. A fearful response is an indication that the perceiver believes that his well-being is in danger, and that he is threatened by death or injury, which can lead to death indirectly.
There are two basic kinds of fear stimuli. The first is environmental and poses a direct physical threat to the person who perceives it. The second is strictly psychological and poses no direct physical threat. For obvious reasons the first is a rational fear and the second is an irrational fear. (David R. Saliba, A Psychology of Fear: The Nightmare Formula of Edgar Allan Poe, 1980, pp. 39-42)
When victims of fear lose the ability to keep the unconscious mind under control, their response will always be one of self-preservation. They will generally either meet the threat head-on or will attempt to escape it. Low level fears, or anxieties, will produce what Freud called ego-defense mechanisms, which include both direct and indirect responses.
The ego has some pretty sophisticated tools it can use in its defense. The lack of these defenses, or the inability to use them effectively can often lead to problems in life. However, people sometimes employ the defenses at the wrong time or overuse them, which can be equally destructive. Here are some common ego-defense mechanisms:
Denial: Arguing against an anxiety provoking stimuli by stating it doesn't exist.
Displacement: Taking out impulses on a less threatening target.
Intellectualization: Avoiding unacceptable emotions by focusing on the intellectual aspects.
Projection: Placing unacceptable impulses onto someone else.
Rationalization: Supplying a logical or rational reason as opposed to the real reason.
Reaction Formation: Taking the opposite belief because the true belief causes anxiety.
Regression: Returning to a previous stage of development.
Repression: Pulling into the unconscious (forgetting).
Sublimation: Acting out unacceptable impulses in a socially acceptable way.
Suppression: Pushing into the unconscious (trying to forget).
In Marianne Williamson's View
How can "our light" frighten us most? Consider how many people fear stepping boldly into that light. Marianne Williamson declares, "Love is what we were born with. Fear is what we learned here." With a deep spiritual belief, she acknowledges that God exists in eternity, and she understands that the only point where eternity meets time is in the present. Williamson thinks people should "produce themselves" and "manifest the glory of God within themselves" without hesitation.
Marianne Williamson believes that the only work that will ultimately bring any good to anyone is the work of contributing to the healing of the world. She understands that every person is on a unique spiritual path, the journey of their individual lives, but many are held back by the love they have been denied, so they're not sufficiently extending themselves in their present lives. Williamson says, "If you give your life as a wholehearted response to love, then love will wholeheartedly respond to you."
I wonder how many people "play small" because of fear. They use ego-defense mechanisms to pull back from facing threats that pose little actual harm. Instead of conquering their trivial anxieties and gaining much-needed confidence, they let their egos guide them to perceived safe harbors. Williamson understands that "a child of God" has no reason to fear and shrink away from being "brilliant, gorgeous, handsome, talented and fabulous."
Now, some would say, "OK, that's good advice for extroverts, but people like me are meek, happy, well-intentioned individuals." And, I acknowledge the right of these folks to live in security while taking less active roles in the course of events. Still, these less visible individuals should not let their fears stop them from being vessels of God. They can "whisper" with confidence in the grace of the Almighty and lead as quiet examples.
In short, I believe it's not how pretty or smart or talented a person is that makes him or her a success. Instead, a person's greatest accomplishments result from some simple steps. The person must do the following:
1. Acknowledge the Master of the journey,
2. Determine the best path to serve God and others,
3. Step forward onto the bright road toward success,
4. And, conquer fears that would inhibit progress.
Thank You, Marianne Williamson
Marianne Williamson is an internationally acclaimed spiritual teacher. Six of her ten published books have been New York Times Best Sellers. Four of these have been #1 New York Times Best Sellers. A Return to Love is considered a must-read of The New Spirituality.
Marianne’s latest New York Times Best Seller is A Course in Weight Loss: 21 Spiritual Lessons for Surrendering Your Weight Forever. A Course in Weight Loss was selected by Oprah to be one of her Favorite Things in 2010.
Here is a link to her website: http://www.marianne.com/.