We often make ourselves smaller than we are because it somehow feels safer. Maybe we’re afraid of being considered too ambitious or too confident. Maybe being strong doesn’t fit into a social construct of who we think we should be. Or maybe we’ve been belittled or not taken seriously in the past and playing small somehow feels right. Whatever the reason, can you imagine what a better place the world would be if we all came out from hiding and played to our full strength instead of hiding behind it?
A few years ago, I underwent treatment for an aggressive form of breast cancer. From the moment I heard the diagnosis—that very scary “C” word—I decided that it would not crush me, that I would thrive through the treatment, and that something extraordinary would come of it. I advocated for myself every step of the way and got second and third opinions for every option. I even researched a treatment that allowed me to keep all my hair through all 12 rounds of chemotherapy. I advocated to make this treatment available to myself, and then, eventually, for others at the hospital where I was treated.
This made a huge difference in my journey with cancer and allowed me to maintain some form of normalcy for myself and for my children. It also allowed me to keep my cancer private as I continued to work throughout those 18 months without telling anyone that I was sick. I also insisted on undergoing over 100 high-dose vitamin C infusions during that same time period, which I’m convinced helped me mitigate the side effects of both the chemo and the radiation. This too, I had to advocate for.
During this time, I started questioning everything that I was putting into my body, which is when I discovered that I couldn’t find 100% plant-based clean supplements or remedies. Ultimately, something extraordinary did come out of my breast cancer as Well Told Health was born out of that revelation.
Perhaps, because I felt backed into a corner at that time and had no choice but to step up, I tapped into my deepest strength. I discovered a well of inner power and resilience that I didn’t know I had. But the truth of it is that the inner power and resilience were always there, they were just concealed behind carefully constructed walls I had built around myself. While I’ve had many hurdles to overcome and triumphs to be proud of before that, it took my breast cancer journey for me to finally be willing to harness my strength and nurture it, and especially, to use it and love myself for it.
That was several years ago, and the incredible irony of embracing my strength is that it has made me feel so much more vulnerable today than I have ever felt before.
Yes, this has been very scary at times. But I think we often avoid tapping into our full strength because if we don’t put it all on the line, then technically, we can’t really fail, and perhaps—even more critically—we can’t get hurt. It’s hard work, but I no longer want to let myself hide inside a smaller version of myself. As Marianne Williamson famously said, “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.”
Every day, I now work on putting all of myself out there, stepping outside of my comfort zone, voicing my opinions, and using every inner tool at my disposal. I won’t lie, it’s hard. And there’s no secret formula.
Some days, I feel like I truly have a magic wand because of it. Other days, I feel like I can’t seem to make things happen. But I have learned to take it in stride, let things go, and forgive myself through daily meditation and expressions of gratitude for everything around me including myself. That last part has been a real eye-opener, as being grateful for myself, my own gifts, and (the hardest of all) forgiving myself, were not things I had really considered before. The simple practice of daily self-gratitude and forgiveness has had a huge impact on my trajectory.
Today, I am determined to let my light shine through and not let anyone else decide what I can and can’t do or who I am. I will no longer live in fear of my strength. I’ll leave the fear of my strength to others.
Originally published by Create & Cultivate, November 11, 2020.