Stop dimming your light: The world needs you
I just got this email from a wonderful writer: “I’m not at all sure the world does need my memoir, my novels, or anything else of mine.”
As soon as I read it, a knowing smile came across my face. “Me, too.” How many times I have thought that. Countless times. With rare exception, I’ve had my own version of that thought before every piece I post, email I send, or new page I add to mapyourprogress.com.
For years, I’ve not been at all sure that the world needs my gifts.
But I’m now convinced that’s bullshit, which is why I’m writing this now.
For this idea that the world doesn’t need what we have to offer, or that someone could do it better, write it better, make it better—anything it better—is straight up Clever Brain.
Clever Brain is what I call that part of our mind that runs off perceived fear. It’s our own 24/7 internal propaganda channel, often blaring loud and discouraging messages—especially when we dare to move closer to what we most want to give or most want to create.
Frankly, Clever Brain can be a real asshole. For it knows exactly what words to use to shut you down. To stop you from creating anything or moving forward in the pursuit of what you most want.
My description of Clever Brain was inspired primarily by Steven Pressfield’s amazing book The War of Art. I recommend it to pretty much every single one of my clients. For he does a brilliant job of detailing the many ways our resistance (which is just another flavor of fear) gets in the way of creating what we’re here to create. Or, as I say it—bringing the light that we’re here to bring into the world.
For I believe that as human people, we have a capacity to bring light into the world, should we choose. That light can be our creativity, knowledge, humor, self-expression, leadership—really anything that contributes something of service to our selves and others.
It’s just often bloody terrifying to do so. That’s actually a polite way of saying it. As a lovely Human Light said it the other day, “It’s just really, really fucking scary.” Amen. P/S That’s actually a good sign.
I work with brave souls on a daily basis to face those fears and bring the light anyhow. To learn how to discern between Clever Brain and who we really are. To recognize our perceived fears and then choose to take action coming from love.
As I’ve found myself saying to clients over and over, “This is not just about you. It’s about the people who love you and those you serve.” Regardless of who you are or what you’re here to give, there are people who very much want to feel your light. Yours. Not someone else’s.
One of my Clever Brain’s favorite asshole moves is to suggest that no one wants to read what I have to write. That it’s arrogant of me to write, it’s arrogant of me to coach, and that I’m bothering people when I put things out into the world. I’m bothering people when I send an email. I’m being obnoxious and selfish. I’m not qualified to share wisdom because there’s someone else out there who could do it better.
Here’s what you can learn about me from my Clever Brain’s messaging: I value humility and humble service. I want to help people in a deep and meaningful way. I do love to share what I’ve learned and what I’ve been given, in the sincere hope that someone else won’t have to suffer as long as I did to gain what I have. I want people to delight in seeing my efforts to connect and feel the generosity I intend. I hold myself to a very high standard and want to do my very best, which usually is me striving to be the very best I can.
All that is to say, if you tell me what your Clever Brain says to shut you down, I can tell a lot about who you are. And odds are, who you are is a lovely person who wants to bring your light to those who most want to receive it.
So here’s what I’ve learned since I began this journey called Map Your Progress: It is not noble or humble to dim your light. It is not kind to hide your talents. It does not serve the world for you to hide what you have to give.
That’s why this is my response to the wonderful writer who shared, “I’m not at all sure the world does need my memoir, my novels, or anything else of mine,” for it’s the same thing I say to myself, and the same thing I offer you.
Sweetheart, the world needs you shining bright. No one is served by you listening to your Clever Brain and holding back the very thing(s) you are here to bring the world. It is a generosity for you to show up, especially when you feel vulnerable, uncertain, and fucking scared. You can show up and make good choices anyhow. You can show up and write. You can share. You can offer your own experience, wisdom, strength, and hope. Because there is someone (truthfully, many someones) out there who is very much looking for your light. Whose day will be made by you doing what you’re here to do.
And what are you here to do?
Start by looking at what scares you. Look at what you most want to give. What you most want people to know. What you would create if you could set aside all reason, rationale or logic. Whatever you could do if you knew you wouldn’t be ridiculed, judged critically, or rejected for it. The thing that you want, yet don’t really let yourself want. For that creative energy that you’re holding back, that light you are dimming, cannot be canceled out or wished away.
As the lovely Brené Brown says, “Unused creativity is not benign.”
Dimming that light of yours sucks energy. It mutes your vitality and strength. In my experience, it causes depression, anxiety, and a sense of hopelessness. It is toxic to meaning. And counter to the best of our human capacity.
My Loves, when you get down to it, the quality of our future is directly tied to our willingness to stop that shit. It comes down to our willingness to shine bright, like the glorious Human Lights we are on this planet to be.
Next right steps
The practice is to be brave enough to honor ourselves, who we really are, and what we’re really here to do.
No biggie, right? First things first: Deep breath. Start where you are, with your next right step. Your next right step is the one you can do.
Write. Make art. Take a just one step toward exploring a side hustle. Share an idea. Stand for what you are passionate about. Nerd hard, without reservation. Say what’s true for you.
Before you take action, on whatever it is, ask yourself:
Am I coming from love or fear?
Why do I want to create this?
What do I intend to contribute?
And get rooted in your light. Ground yourself in service, which is indeed a humble act. Stop following your Clever Brain’s advice, which suggests that you aren’t enough. With great kindness, I repeat: That’s utter bullshit and serves no one, my Love. Which is exactly why your Clever Brain uses it to shut down any action that would move you or anyone else forward.
So listen for that. Listen for how your Clever Brain speaks to you. And remember that it’s not who you are. You are here to bring your light, not dim it. You’re here to help people in a meaningful way and make the world better because you are in it. The most brave and generous thing you can do is to honor that light and shine as bright as you can stand.
This is my favorite conversation to have.
It’s the one where we dig down into what matters most to you, where we get clear on what light it is that you’re here to bring and what might be blocking it. Right now, I’m offering this at no cost to those who are a fit. Your Clever Brain will try and talk you out of it. Don’t let it.