Actually who are you NOT to be?
Your playing small doesn't serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are born to make manifest the glory ...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 other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our fears, our presence automatically liberates others. - Marianne Williamson
Years ago I went to a women's workshop where we did a very interesting exercise. We were paired off with another woman whom we did not know. The exercise was to sit face-to-face with your partner -- and pay her one sincere compliment after another until the instructor said, "time".
And as if that weren't difficult enough...we weren't allowed to break eye contact, we weren't allowed to disagree (verbally or otherwise)...in fact, we weren't allowed to say ANYTHING at all in response but, "thank you...it's true".
The exercise was very easy when you were "the giver"...you didn't know the person personally, so you just went by what you saw and complimented it. But when you were on the "receiving end" -- geez -- it seemed to last f-o-r-e-v-e-r.
I can remember sitting there as this stranger paid me one compliment after another. "You have pretty eyes", "you have a nice smile", "you have great skin" etc, etc.. Let me tell you -- it was brutal. I was breaking into a cold sweat, getting nauseous and squirming in my seat. There was a giant lump developing in my throat as I croaked out each successive "thank you...it's true". I thought it would never end.
Which begs the question, how well do you take a compliment? How do you answer somebody when he or she pays you a compliment?
Do you launch into a series of "oh, that's not trues..." or "you've got to be kiddings..."?
Or do you stand there, smile, let it sink in and say a simple (and heart-felt)"thank you"?
If you're like most of us, probably not.
In fact, if you're like most women you'd rather listen to the sound of nails running down a blackboard then to stand face-to-face with someone paying you a sincere compliment.
Ironically, most of us have no problem talking to ourselves about what we don't like. Do we?
"Geez, my hair looks like crap today!"
"I can't believe how big my _____is!!"
"Why do I look so fat in this dress?".
Nope that stuff comes to us easily. My question is... why?
I think a big part of it is that this culture considers any self-validation to be immodest, boastful, even conceited. We want to be humble, modest -- and that kind of woman wouldn't think such things about herself...much less say them out loud!! What would other people think? Everyone would think I was a stuck-up "bee-och".
But think about it....what exactly is the problem with thinking that we are not just okay -- but really great?!! I'm not talking spouting some affirmations that you don't believe, but rather an acceptance and appreciation for all of the things that are true about you.
What is unique and beautiful about you -- inside and out? What's your particular form of brilliance?
Imagine the shift in perception if each of us thought about what's awesome about us, rather than focusing on her flaws...particularly physical flaws.
I think that on some level most of us believe that if we fail to focus on our imperfections we aren't dealing with them -- and they'll get worse -- and things will fall apart all together. But I don't think that's true.
Focusing on the negative doesn't do anything but disempower us, keep us down and immobilize us by constanting reminding us of all that we're not.
Imagine looking at yourself in the mirror and zeroing in on all of the great things about your body. What's that silly T-shirt slogan, "I may not be perfect, but parts of me are excellent"? What if that was your mental orientation? What possible harm could come from thinking to yourself, "Yep, I'm already magnificent and I'm getting better every day"? Moreover, what possible harm could come from thinking that about other women, as well?
Too often I think as women we deal with other women from a "small pie mentality". There is only so much to go around. If she gets too big a slice there won't be any left for me! If she's beautiful, I can't be. If she has a great body, I can't. If she gets a great job, I can't. If she gets a lot of male attention, I can't.
That's ridiculous!!! It's a scarcity point of view with no basis in reality.
One flower in the garden being spectacular doesn't take away from another flower being just as spectacular -- albeit in a totally different way.
Another woman's "having it all" doesn't mean that you won't or can't. Why not revell in her greatness, tell her that you see it and use it to inspire, guide you, teach you how to develop even more of your own.
A good place to start this shift in perception is by appreciating and validating all the compliments that come your way.
The next time that someone pays you a compliment, rather than rejecting their praise with a dismissive, "that's not true" or some other comment (which also basically insults the other person by saying indirectly in effect, "what the heck do you know?"). Instead, challenge yourself to work through your discomfort and accept the compliment with a smile of acknowledgment and a simple, "thank you".
And then silently to yourself (or outloud if you're really ready to go for it) say, "It's true!!"
Geralyn Coopersmith, MA, CSCS is the National Director of the Equinox Fitness Training Institute, an educator, exercise physiologist, certified personal trainer and author of Fit and Female: The Complete Fitness & Nutrition Game Plan for Your Unique Body Type.