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Playing small…

The Camino Primitivo was about finishing a physical challenge, writing and getting some headspace.  The Camino did not disappoint.  I’ve been home a week and a half and feel great.  I’ve started an article soon to be published here… and submitted to the world for a bigger audience.  The headspace walking for a few weeks gave me another unexpected insight…

I’ve been playing small.

It has not served me.  I have discounted my accomplishments and constantly remaking myself to fit in and be ‘good enough’ for someone else. I waited, each time I finished a marathon or started a new project, for someone to say, ‘ok you’re enough’.

I played small by not taking pride in myself and keeping hard feelings to myself only to blow up later.  I didn’t want to bother anyone or worse, not fit in.  I played small at my own expense.

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, 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 will not 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 others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Excerpt from: A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles (1992) Marianne Williamson

Somewhere between mile 16 of the marathon last month and finishing hike/running 184 miles, I stopped apologizing for my opinion and feelings.  I started asking for what I need.  I started to feel proud of myself.

On my walk along the Camino Primitivo, I noticed the difference when I encountered some of the weird rules people come up with along the ‘ways’.  Fellow pilgrims are happy to share what they think others should be doing.

“Your pack is too heavy/too light.”…”You should have proper hiking boots.”…”You’re walking too far/not far enough.”…”You should do _____ .”…”You should be _____”.

The last time I walked a Camino, I really took the criticism to heart and found it ruined some of my time along the way.  I would let a comment roll around in my head and talk it out with other people.  Ugh!  Misery!

This time, I heard the same comments and just smiled and thanked that person for their feedback.  I was able to see the comments for what they were.  They were looking for some reassurance, some control. The comments were never about me so I let them roll off along the trail.

Life isn’t all magical lessons and patience.  At the end of this Camino, I was walking with a rather direct and insightful woman.  I was frustrated, tired and spent a lot the day unloading about…everything.  I looked for the negative and found it.  Found it because I was frustrated I hadn’t taken care of my own needs for several days.  She commented I had a ‘short fuse’.  That little truth found its target.  I realized a few things…

  1. I’m still well worth hanging out with…imperfectly me… short fuse and all.
  2. That was me in that moment, not the best me but that’s OK too. Making mistakes is part of living big.
  3. I’m allowed to have bad days.
  4. It’s ok to be angry.  I was angry at myself for playing small and ignoring my own needs.

We should all take a look around occasionally and take note.  Am I playing small?  Could I do more…me?  Be more…me?  Has my light shone bright enough today?  Is the answer no?  Maybe it’s time to stop playing small.

 

 

 

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