Each day between Dec 26, 2011 and Jan 1, 2012, one of seven wonderful teachers will offer us a question to contemplate as we head into a new year. Yesteday’s question was from the lovely Patti Digh and it lives here on my blog and here on Facebook. Chime in if you like!
Today’s question is from the equally lovely Ken Robert of mildlycreative.com:
In what way have I been living in the shadows in 2011? How might my life change if I came out into the light in 2012? What strengths could I discover and share if I gave up hiding my weaknesses?
Sometimes we stay hidden, fearful that others might see our wounds and blemishes. We think we’re the only ones who bear them. But I find that when I expose my weaknesses, I give others permission to expose theirs, too. There, beneath the light and in between the blemishes, we find we have strengths we never noticed before. Hiding becomes far less appealing and we’re drawn to living instead. In 2011, what were you hiding all year? What could you do to stop hiding in 2012? What treasures will you find when you step out into the light? –Ken Robert
Where have you been hiding?
This is an interesting question and actually quite a difficult one to respond to. It could provoke a kind of aggressive response, like searching for someone or something to blame for the fact that we are hiding. It could be our parents or colleagues or, most likely, our self. “If I was a different person—braver, smarter, more accomplished, I would no longer have to hide.”
But no assignment of blame is required to liberate yourself from the shadows.
Nor is it helpful to think, well if I just show my vulnerabilities, confess to what may be embarrassing, speak my inadequacies, express my fears, I’ll find that we’re all just afraid together and my situation will feel far less challenging. This kind of caving (which I have attempted many times) into a show of vulnerability masquerading as a gesture of strength just makes me—not to mention everyone around me—more confused.
It is also not required in order to stop hiding.
Rather than suggesting aggression or collapse, this question is calling forth something very subtle and deep. It is asking you to be authentic; to show vulnerability when you feel afraid and to show your brilliance when it surfaces, without fear and without expectation. Ultimately, to be yourself from moment to moment is the ultimate in non-hiding.
I’m going to tell you how to do this, to really, really do this. It’s not about becoming bold. It’s not about ceasing to care what others think. It’s not about damning the torpedoes and speaking your mind, no matter what. These are unskillful versions of authenticity.
The way to stop hiding begins (and ends) with knowing yourself. It is rooted in awareness of your thoughts, feelings, and insights on the spot, as they arise. Without this inner awareness, your step out from the shadows is a show. With it, your appearance has and is pure magic.
Magic is what I call it when there is congruence between your inner experience and your outer life. This magic is inseparable from authenticity. I’m not talking about woo-woo magic. I’m talking about the kind we experience when we are in the presence of one who is not afraid of herself, including her genius and her fears. When you are unafraid of your genius, you can share it. (Thanking you in advance.) When you are unafraid of your fear, you are a warrior.
So there is no need to “become” authentic. You are already who you are. Now, please, let us see him in his joy and his sorrow, in his brilliance and in his abject confusion. This is your gift. It is a treasure.
Of course, a meditation practice is the most direct way to cultivate such inner knowing from moment to moment. If you’d like to learn, I’d like to teach you. Please sign up for The Open Heart Project. Free!