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My favorite pastime is to sit outside a cafe, coffee in hand, watching people move, interact, and be with themselves. It is also what I do for a living. I am a listener, watcher, and instigator. My children know that I can easily strike up a deep conversation with a complete stranger and know the person’s full life story in less than 20 minutes. My children marvel at how I know a waitress at a favorite restaurant or barista at a local coffee shop.
I have a lot of pet peeves, and one of them is when people play small. I could tell you dozens of stories of witnessing kids as young as 5 and humans as old as 92 who abdicate the brilliance, beauty, and amazement of their own beings. I’ve taken up the cause and dedicate my life to breaking that pattern.
“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” – Nelson Mandela
The truth about humility
Decades ago, I heard the best definition of humility. True humility is to be no more and no less than that which you are in your own right. Whether it is instinctive or learned, most of us know how to exist being “no more.” Whether it is based on the need for safety, security, or one million other reasons, playing small or playing it safe is woven into the fabric of most of our beings. Being “no less” is where the juicy parts flow.
Take a moment, and let’s do a personal assessment together. Find a quiet space where you can be in a comfortable position. Bring intentionality into your body. If you are sitting, place the soles of your feet on the floor about hips distance apart. Feel the soles of your feet underneath you and feel the ground underneath the soles of your feet.
Lift through the top of your head, not creating strain but intentionally stretch. Bring the palms of your hands to your knees or thighs and close your eyes or leave them open. If you leave them open, allow them to gaze softly down the bridge of your nose about three feet in front of you. Afterwards, make sure to breathe. Matter of fact, take a few breath cycles of breathing in and breathing out, as you do that say to yourself, “Breathing in I know that I am breathing in, Breathing out I know that I am breathing out.”
Repeat those words with each cycle, perhaps making them shorter as you keep on with the breathing, “Breathing in, Breathing out,” or even “In, Out.”
Notice your body. Allow yourself to be aware of how your body feels when you’re breathing. When you begin feeling more present in the moment, take an even deeper breath and ask yourself, “How do I want to show up in life?” It is okay if thoughts and your mental being want to answer. Also listen for deeper wisdom coming from your heart and body.
If you have extra time, reflect on where you have abdicated, sold yourself short, and played small. My hope for you in these moments is that those critical inner spaces don’t override just allowing yourself to be informed, try to hold off judgement and criticism. Take some longer breaths if you feel those sensations creeping into your being.
“If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” – Van Gogh
For example, I abdicated several spaces in my life. Professionally, I allowed others to always be the “expert.” When I stepped into the space of owning my own strengths, I allowed myself to be no less. I set my sights on what I wanted to accomplish, took the necessary steps, and I’m reaching high for my own dreams and goals.
What’s the very next step you can take? What is one thing you could do today, this week, or this quarter? Let yourself be no less than who you really are. Be more intentional about feeling present in your body and in the now. Release regret, acknowledge if there is any fear or doubt, and step forward.
Lastly, take a seat. Bring the backs of your hands to the tops of your knees. I want you to say “I am an AMAZEMENT,” two times in a regular voice, two times in a whisper, one time quietly to yourself, and one time as loud as you want. Bring your thumb across the pad of each finger as you speak the words and press down. Thumb to index finger, “I.” Thumb to middle finger, “AM.” Thumb to ring finger, “AN.” Thumb to pinky finger, “AMAZEMENT.” And repeat. Do this for the next couple weeks, notice the difference. Live and thrive in the knowledge of your own competency, your own amazement, be no less!
Let us know in the comments what you think once you try the technique described above!