Who Do You Think You Are?

Who do you think you are? What is your role here on this earth? Do you even think you have one or is that something that should be left for others, for all those who are brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous, not for you… for ordinary you or ordinary me? What a great time of the year to sit down and consider these questions.

This got me thinking about the “others”, the likes of Steven Spielberg, Barack Obama, Bob Brown, Marianne Williamson, Sting and Fiona Stanley. What sets them apart from me and you? And my thoughts turned not only to the well-known and famous, but also to those in our own communities who achieve beyond the ho-hum of everyday. How are they different from me? What is it that they have that makes them become who they are?

Note that I am not talking here about celebrity and/or the profusion of social media fame; I am talking about real personal achievements of substance, making a difference at your work, in your family or in your community.

Lots of questions but not so many answers. I would like to think that there was some wonderful elaborate explanation that would let me off the hook, that would make it clear to me that there was some sort of divine distribution of talent, gorgeousness and brilliance, that, damn, through no fault of my own I had somehow missed out… been passed over, left behind. Surely they must possess something that I don’t, and surely their upbringing, genetics and environment, etc. must have had something to do with this.

But I’ve read enough biographies and seen enough films to know that the cold hard reality is that there is nothing that separates us as a whole… individually yes, maybe, but as a general rule of thumb there is nothing.

But, my mind protests, what about this factor and that factor and then all those other things that must come into play…right?!? Looks, money, brains and position?!?

Nope, not a thing; in fact, in some cases it seems the less you have of these traits the more chance you have of succeeding. Okay, another excuse down.

As I write this I am also aware of the huge amount of psychological literature that there is around to explain it to us in minute detail, but as I sit at the beach or when I am watering the garden I am not interested in that. I know as a mental health professional that there are many, many things underpinning the why, what and how to get people motivated.

But what interests me is the notion that those who just get on with it don’t spend an awful lot of time pondering the “who am I?” question. Not like the rest of us who seem to have this notion that we need to be tapped on the shoulder to be given the nod, so to speak, to be given the go-ahead. We seem to need to be legitimised by something or someone outside ourselves. Crazy, isn’t it?

I think I am also making the common mistake of waiting for my life to get perfect before I venture out. You know the score… the perfect body, the perfect job, the perfect partner, the perfect house, kids and so on – blimey, I wouldn’t want to be revealed as a fraud! I must have all my ducks in a row lest someone should look in and want to judge me, check me out. Isn’t it a perfect life that the “others” have, or at least great chunks of it? Weren’t they born with special attributes or into special circumstances that enabled them to perfect things before they made their way onto the “out there” stage.

Hmmm, alas… I do know that this is what is called magical thinking.

Unfortunately, there is more than enough evidence to suggest that there is nothing that sets us apart other than a willingness to be exposed. The “others” put their beliefs/visions/position out there in front of themselves and the world. Surprisingly, luck, magic, genetics and divine intervention seem to have very little to do with it. What is required, however, is hard work, tenacity and perseverance.

So, I am left wondering whether it would make a difference if we were taught from an early age that being who we are, being 100% ourselves, is all that is required to make our way authentically in the world. I think it would, but if you live in a shame-based culture, as most modern cultures are now, you will have your work cut out for you as no one likes to be outwardly vulnerable. To put our heads deliberately on the chopping block would be to risk the comfort and safety we gain out of acceptance, which ironically is somehow far more important to us than the discomfort we feel deep within ourselves for burying that dream, love, idea or desire. After all, who do you think you are?

Well, maybe 2016 is just the year to go find out! Take the risk and, as Marianne Williamson wrote, “Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you”. You owe it to us. Imagine if none of the people who make the world around you functional had put their hands up and said “yes, I’ll take that job”, had shown their designs, given that lecture, written their books, sung their songs, served their apprenticeship, taught those classes, emigrated to the other side of the world or just the next city or town. Imagine if they had just sat and kept it all to themselves. We would have virtually nothing, our world would be so small. It is unimaginable, isn’t it?

“Stop playing it small” is going to be my mantra for 2016, not only for myself but for my clients as well. We all have something to give, some purpose for the world that is unique to us, and perhaps all that is required of us is to first be bold enough to claim it for ourselves, to really feel the warmth of its shine, then through that process we can gain the courage to share it.

Coming from a purely selfish point of view, please take the time to stop, sit and ask yourself the question – Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? I need you to shine… the world needs you to shine… but most importantly you need you to shine!

Excerpt from “A Return to Love”, by Marianne Williamson.

“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.”