Do You Fear Being You?

Does your fear of being you hold you back from living your life the way you so desperately want to?

At the beginning of this year, I planned a Face Your Fears bootcamp, ironically as each day drew closer to the bootcamp I found that I had to deal with my own fears of actually running the Bootcamp!  A few years ago I was introduced to a book called The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks.  He talks about something that he calls the ‘Upper Limit’ which he says that we all have. It’s like a set point, an invisible limit that we each place upon ourselves and when we try to step up to the next level, our ‘Upper Limit Problem’ kicks in and our fears stop us from making that ‘Big Leap’.  This was exactly what I went through.  The minute I decided to make that big leap this year, all of my outdated and irrational beliefs started coming to the fore in an attempt to stop me, to keep me ‘safe’.  First I had to conquer my fear of commitment, then a fear of ‘letting myself shine’ made its voice known. It was an interesting day as one by one my memories revealed to me where my fear of shining came from and how it has played out in my life

When I entered high school I had two friends that I used to hang out with, Lara and Wilma.  Lara could be described as a classic beauty, she had huge doe-like eyes and walked with her head held high, moving with a sense of style and grace way beyond her years.  Wilma was the goofy one, she walked with this kind of slouch and loose manner, always laughing and joking.  Wherever we went, Lara would walk in the middle of us with Wilma on the left of her and me on the right.  Believe it or not, but I was the quiet one!  I did not say much, I just walked along with them, sometimes I laughed or had an opinion but for some reason I was very very uncomfortable at school.  No one noticed me, I felt invisible and in all honesty, looking back, it’s probably what I wanted as I had been bullied in junior school so I did not want to draw any attention to myself.  Wherever the three of us went, people stared, Lara’s presence ‘demanded’ it, you could not help but stare at her.  Wilma was highly amused at the attention Lara attracted wherever we went and she would point it out and comment on it.  Me, well I just kept walking along in their shadows, not saying much,

In Junior school, between the ages of 8 and 11, I used to be a swimmer, every day after school I would ride my bicycle to the local Olympic sized swimming pool where I would practice.  We were required to swim no less than one hundred laps a day and I loved every minute of it. We had a fantastic swimming coach who believed in us, he motivated us and he trained us hard. My strongest swimming style was backstroke and when I was 11, he entered me into a big swimming competition taking place at a town close by.  To my own surprise and that of my coach, I broke a world record in backstroke, sadly none of my family or friends were there to share this momentous achievement with me.

Shortly after, at the age of 12, we moved hundreds of miles away to a different area to a house in the country, there were no swimming pools close by.  The city was only about 30 minutes away but my parents felt it was too far for me to go to continue my swimming.  My brother, a year younger than me, was a fantastic athlete.  He ran like the wind.  He played rugby as well and whenever he played he always caused a lot of amusement and excitement. He was an incredible sprinter so when he got that ball in his hands, he would just sprint right across the field and score every time.  He broke records and he won medals, he still does.  My father was very invested in his athletic career and after we moved ‘to the country’ my father enlisted the help of an athletic coach to help my brother hone his skills.  The coach was based at the university on the other side of the city which was miles away from us, almost double the distance than from where the swimming pool was, but somehow a way was found for him to go and train with his coach a few times a week.  For some unknown reason to me, the prospect of my swimming career did not carry the same weight as the prospect of my brother’s athletic career.  Looking back, it was here that I first learnt that my needs came second, that I was ‘primed’ to walk in other people’s shadows.

Debbie, you are a strong person, but you have to be careful as other people will feel threatened by you.’

As I grew up, I recall my mom (bless her heart as this is what she was taught) saying to me, Debbie, you are a strong person, but you have to be careful as other people will feel threatened by you.’  As I got older and started dating she taught me that it was ‘my duty, as a woman to be the woman behind the man’, that when I got married I would  need to take a step back so my husband could shine, that the man was the head of the household and a woman was his helper.’  I was raised in a religious home and according to Christian beliefs Adam, the first human on earth, was lonely and needed help so God gave him a helper, Eve.  Ironically Eve was also blamed for the troubles of the world, she ate the apple and listened to the snake and therefore she was cursed with child labour pains and all that other awful stuff designed to suppress woman.…anyway I digress.  But, I think you are now starting to get the bigger picture of why many women, not just me, struggle with issues of putting ourselves out there as our collective environments did not support women being raised as leaders.  All of this mumbo jumbo taught me that as a woman it was my place to be in the shadows, that I was the successful woman behind the successful man!  The only problem with that is that no matter what I was taught it went completely against my natural grain, I was, and am, simply not built that way…….

‘my duty, as a woman to be the woman behind the man’

I was born a leader, my natural personality and temperament is that of a leader, I was (I am) strong-willed and high spirited.  I always knew where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do.   As a toddler when my parents took me to my room to have an afternoon nap and I wasn’t tired, I would climb out of my cot, no matter how much they tried to barricade my room or take stuff out of the room that could be used to climb onto, to open the door. I always found a way out the cot and out of the bedroom.  At the age of 3, my parents went to Bible College, my brothers and I were looked after by childcare workers throughout the day at the college whilst they attended their lessons.  There was this gate that separated the children’s area from the adult area and the catch was really high up so we couldn’t reach it.  I found a way though, I would jump onto the bottom of the gate and the latch would fly up and I would be able to open the gate and walk through.  The first day I started school, according to my teacher, I organised the entire classroom including her. When I was 12, I was made a Prefect after only joining the school the week before. At the age of 13 I was put in charge of a youth team, the oldest member in the ‘youth team’ was 24.   At the age of 20, I was put in charge of a division at a Telematics company, it took me a mere 4 months to be promoted from Receptionist, to Secretary, to PA and then to Manager.  But as I grew up, it always felt like there were people continuously trying to break my spirit, I was called bossy, arrogant, strong-willed.  Responses I received from other people over the years when I have offered my opinion, have been along the lines of ‘who do you think you are’, or my personal favourite (said with tongue in cheek) ‘how dare you?’  Ending up in an abusive relationship was the ultimate spirit-breaking female suppressing experience and at the age of 22, after leaving that abusive relationship, I seemed to lose my desire for wanting to shine, it was hard work and it had indeed broken my spirit, I had learnt that everytime I put myself ‘out there’ I was hurt, so I would back down.

My time came to shine again when I wrote my first book The Relationship Magnet in 2006 at the age of 37 (it was re-released this month).  My partner at the time encouraged me to write my story and as soon as it was released, I was in the spotlight.  Gosh it brought so much attention, but it didn’t scare me, I was in my flow.  I was fully focused on helping others and had not attached any outcome to it, financial or otherwise, I simply went with the flow.  But……the minute I attached expectations and outcomes, everything changed.  I started to receive criticism, virtual bullying and attacks, I was right back in that place of people saying ‘how dare you’ and ‘who do you think you are’?  So what did I do, I retreated in fear.  I started doubting myself, my old irrational beliefs that were programmed into me of ‘taking a backwards step’ came up and I spiraled into a state of self sabotage.  My mother’s words of me being a threat became a self-fulfilling prophesy.

So yesterday I took this fear to task.  I put it in its place and I have come up with a retort to keep it in its place.

‘It is my time to shine; it is always my time to shine!
No I am not a threat, me being strong does not make you weak!
When the light shines on me, does not mean it takes the light away from shining on you, there is enough light for you and for me!

In response to my favourite comeback of ‘who do you think you are’ I say!

I am who I am!
A spiritual being on a never ending journey
A lover of life, a mother, a grandmother and a wife!
If you want to come along with me on my journey so you too can learn how to let your light shine, then hop on board.
If not, feel free to go, no one is holding you hostage here.

I end this blog today with this beautiful quote 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.”

Speaking of lights, the sun is out and I get to spend this afternoon with my favourite 5 year old.
It is time to let your light shine!