I can’t tell you how many times the fear of looking like a fool in front of others stopped me in my tracks in the past. A good example from many years ago is the time I won the Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award. As an award recipient, I was asked to give an acceptance speech at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco. So there I was at this luxurious hotel about to give my speech to 500 people, and instead of being excited I was terrified!
The voice of my ego rang in my head, saying “Who are you to receive this award? How can you possibly have anything valuable to say?” You get the picture. The main message was, “If you get up on that stage you are going to make a fool of yourself in front of everyone who’s anyone in this city!”
What was I to do? At that time I didn’t yet have the tools I teach today to silence the voice of ego and let Spirit shine, so I did the only logical thing: I went into the walk-in closet in my hotel room and prayed for an earthquake. Yes, you read that right: in that moment, I would have rather had death and destruction than stand up in front of those people and make a fool of myself.
This seems so ridiculous now looking back, but it is a great example of how insidious the ego can be. It stops us from giving our gifts, from stepping out and trying, from speaking our truth and ultimately, from actualizing our Divine potential. My ego didn’t stop me that day, but it came close. Luckily, there was no earthquake and I mustered the courage to step up despite the voice in my head.
As I have come to awaken more and more out of ego consciousness, I’ve realized that the voice I heard that day was my false self, and that striving to look like a fool is exactly where I want to be . Why? Because when I reside in Essence, I am free to allow my humanity to be seen by all, and this vulnerability is a great gift to myself and others. In this sweet surrender our light can emerge more fully, and we no longer believe the ego’s directives about how we “should” be because we are too busy just being with what is. When you realize that nothing is a problem, it follows that there must be nothing wrong with you either. There is so much freedom that comes when we recognize that we are not the thoughts in our head that tell us we are less than or better than another. From this place, we reach a deep knowing that it is both our humanity and our divinity that connects us all.
Once we let go of believing the voice in our head that tells us how to live our lives, we can really start living. Don’t let your false self stop you anymore! One practice I give to my clients is what I call the “Not Looking Good” List. This exercise is to create a list of all the things you’ve wanted to do but haven’t for fear of looking foolish. Maybe it is enrolling in a speaker’s group or taking Tango lessons or something else; we all have our own deferred dreams. Whatever it is for you, write it down and take that leap of faith to pursue something you believe you will be really bad at because you know it will make your heart sing. Over and over again in my work, I’ve seen that when we push through our fears to live our passion, the results are better than our wildest dreams.
Every time we follow our heart and exit the mind, we open to a joy and passion that ignites our Divine purpose. In my experience, we can’t truly live “on purpose” without looking like a fool at times. The difference is that when we are spirit led we no longer see ourselves as foolish, so no one else can make us feel that way, either. Then we are free to give the gifts that only we can give to the world, and to love deeply without fear. Now that is a recipe for a life well lived.