“Your inner light hasn’t been shining so bright recently,” she said to me in a low, concerned tone as she leaned over the counter.
I smiled, or, at least I tried to. “Well, you know…” I said, trying to shrug off what felt like 100 lbs mounted to my back, “it’s been…”
“I know,” she nodded, with a look in her eyes that said she understood completely. She leaned in a bit closer, lowered her voice and looked me straight in the eyes, “But you’re a boss –“
I slowly began to cringe, feeling anything but that. My gaze fluttered to the background noise and people passing by.
She waited patiently until I found her eyes again, “You’re literally the best – and you have to know that.” Pausing for a moment, she added, “Don’t let anyone dim your light,” punctuating each and every last syllable.
I thanked her and left but her words stung like copper pennies dropped into a tin can, a hollow echo that I couldn’t shake the rest of the day.
When did I start to dim my light?
I haven’t felt like myself recently – and, if I’m being honest, I haven’t felt like my real self in quite some time. Every now and then I find glimpses of her, the bright and confident girl whose presence alone lights up a room, but over the last year and a half, I’ve been burning at a fraction of that.
I’ve dimmed my light as to not “cause a scene”.
I’ve played smaller so who I am wouldn’t be “too much”.
I’ve softened my voice because you mistook my passion for argumentative.
I’ve downplayed my talents so I wouldn’t come across as arrogant.
I’ve learned – both personally and professionally – that when I turn my light way up, I’m really fucking bright. In fact, I’m too bright for some people. And so, I started turning it down low, hoping I’d fit in.
We all have inner extinguishers that convince us to play smaller, get quieter and give up on our dreams.
Don’t let anyone dim your light
In a moment I was taken back to six-year-old Amy, the girl who felt insecure, unloved and unaccepted. The six-year-old who felt what she did (and, believe me, she tried hard!) was never good enough. The six-year-old, who at her core, believed she was not good enough.
It’s a deep story and one that I’ve done years and years of work to break down all the slight nuisances that keep me stuck in my not enough-ness: I’ve spent hours talking with my life coach, I’ve sat through hours of therapy and I’ve delved into research around neuro-linguistic programming. I finally hit a point a little over a year ago where I was D-O-N-E with this story. Literally done.
I had a major breakthrough at an intenSati training I was leading in Boston. As the not-enough thoughts came up, I found myself, for the first time ever, seeing right though them. I was doing all the thing I had said I wanted to do (but supposedly wasn’t good enough to be doing). In the moment that I was literally running a training, the “not-enough” story held little validity. And I stood there proudly in my enough-ness, in a way I hadn’t since before I was six. To top it off, when the training commenced, my teacher told me I was ready to lead my first training solo. Talk about a breakthrough, right?
Whenever we’re triggered, we drop back to our default reaction.
“I’m interested, but not invested.” Words that hit my heart like a ton of bricks. Rejection that led to heart break told me I wasn’t enough for this person.
“This next process will be even more intensive and we’re only taking the 1% of the 1%,” in a tone that said, Girl, I wouldn’t get your hopes up, was just another reminder of how undervalued and inadequate I am.
What did I do wrong? What’s wrong with me? Why is it never good enough?
With each instance, I pick myself apart, search for answers that don’t exist and further dim my light.
Maybe you’ve faced rejection and heartbreak – or your significant other hasn’t made you feel valued or important.
Maybe your boss constantly makes you feel inadequate, undervalued and passed over time and time again.
Maybe you minimized your true feelings because people tell you what you feel isn’t real and so you ignore your truth because it’s not convenient for others.
Maybe you equate your light for your accomplishments, bank account or another external validation of your worth.
We all have inner extinguishes that tell us to play smaller, get quieter and give up on our dreams. We all have some version of a not-enough story that urges us to dim our light.
But the thing about light is this: it’s not dependent upon outside circumstance. Light is an inside job and the only person who can turn that shit up (or down) is you.
Are You Dimming Your Light?
Warning Signs Your Inner Light is About to Blow a Fuse
- You don’t have as much energy as you use to
- You can’t focus on any one thing for an extended period of time and your mind is always racing
- You constantly feel on-edge and ready to snap in an instant
- You’re repeating the same mistakes over and over again
- You feel overwhelmed
- You experience more drastic emotional swings in your mood
- You don’t sleep well, or you feel drained even after a good night’s sleep
Not listening to the warning signs comes at a high cost: you’ll literally burn out and end up relying on sugar and caffeine more and more to keep whatever fire you’ve got left burning. You’ll keep giving away more of yourself and your power to the things that don’t light you up and you’ll question why you constantly feel tired and stuck.
Light is everything. No light. No life. It’s that simple.
Turning Your Light Up
Notice What Dims Your Light
Start by noticing what dims your light. Is it the people you’re spending time with that makes you not show up as the best version of yourself? Is it your toxic work environment? Is it your relationships? Be as specific as possible because the more you can understand what drains you, the faster you can shift it.
Find Your “Tipping Point”
Identify your tipping point, the main area of your life that is creating the most negative impact for you. This will be anything or anyone that has a direct impact on how you feel in other areas of your life. For example, work may drain you and put you in such a bad mood that your relationships are suffering and you don’t workout anymore.
Now, you might not be able to immediately change the tipping point. But what you can do is look at what you can control in that situation or with that person. It might ultimately come down to finding a new job or hanging out with different people, but it also might be as simple as finding Pattern Interrupt techniques that allow you to diffuse how you’re feeling in the moment as to not infiltrate other areas of your life. Things like consciously working with your breath (Square Breathing is my go-to technique), going for a walk, or just removing yourself from the triggering situation for a few moments is sometimes all you need to put space between you and the emotion itself.
An emotion only lasts for about 90 seconds, so if you can identify the Tipping Point and have an arsenal of “emergency tools” in your back pocket for when you get triggered, you can start to diffuse how you feel, instead of dimming your light.
Reconnect To What Lights You Up
What are the things that fill your soul cup and feel like a breath of fresh air, the things that after you do them leave you feeling energized? Who are the people whose presence feel like soaking up massive amounts of vitamin D? Make a list of the things and people that light you up. Commit to doing 1 – 3 things off that list each week or create time for the people who leave you feeling lighter and brighter, even if it’s just a phone call or text.
When you reconnect to the things and people who fill you up, you intuitively reconnect to your own light. And when you start to shine a little brighter on the inside, you light up the world in a way that only you can.
Things will happen that will make you question your enough-ness. People will constantly tell you who you are or who you ought to be. And each of these things holds the power to have you dim your light. But, the only person who holds the power over how bright your wattage shines is YOU.
As Lisa Nichols, best selling author and motivational speaker says: “You gonna find people that can’t handle your light…Turn the lights up, as your light gets brighter, you gonna disrupt some people. Then you just look at them and say, ‘I’m not dimming my light – I’m just gonna hand you some shades.’”
The light in me, honors the light in you…now go turn that shit up