Living the Full Spectrum

by Sheila Adams, M.A. Organization Development

What do you really want in your life? It really saddens me when I hear from people that they bury their dreams and desires because they don’t want to hope for something and be disappointed. Why is it so common to feel guilty about getting what we want?

As I mentioned in the March issue, Robert Fritz (of “The Path of Least Resistance”) stated that the majority of us have a dominant, deeply rooted belief system that limits the fulfillment of our desires. We believe that we are both unable to get what we most want, and that we don’t deserve to have what we want. I wonder why this is so prevalent. I have observed some things I believe are strong contributing factors. Whether you agree or not, I think you’ll find that one solution I offer here will work regardless.

So follow my musings for a moment. I’ve noticed that it’s easy to focus on faults. It’s pretty easy to get someone to commiserate with you when you complain, as long as it stays within “acceptable” limits. They’re usually even eager to join the chorus. Bad news travels fast, and so does malicious gossip. We absorb criticism and let in the pain, but have trouble receiving praise and appreciation. We are often uncomfortable saying anything to someone directly that approaches either end of the emotional spectrum: negative or positive. So if we are more focused on absorbing negative feedback than positive, it’s no great mystery why we feel so powerless and undeserving!

Do you assume when someone tells you something good about someone else that that someone must be lucky to hear wonderful things about themselves? Do you long for that same kind of feedback yourself, even if secretly? I’m willing to bet that the wonderful qualities that are shared with you about someone else don’t often get back to them, and they probably don’t get direct positive feedback any more than you do. Why is this?

I believe we have a real need to express the full spectrum of our feelings about how we see others, but need to do it in a way that doesn’t threaten our comfort, or risk conflict. It can even be embarrassing to give positive feedback to someone, especially if they are embarrassed receiving it. Our communication with each other usually falls in the middle. Negative feelings are tempered, vented to a “safe” third party, or veiled in partial truths. At the opposite end of the spectrum I see enthusiasm curtailed because we’re afraid someone will come along and burst our bubble. Unfortunately, this is often grounded in solid experience. We are so afraid to shine. If we appear “big” we may hear “you’re too big for your britches”, “who do you think you are anyway!”, or “don’t toot your own horn”. My fightin’ response to these is: get bigger britches, tell them who you are, and who else will toot your horn if you don’t!

As Marianne Williamson says, playing small doesn’t serve anyone. Have you ever experienced being in a safe, supportive group with others who let you grow and be your true self? If you have, you know that many others share these issues of not feeling “good enough” or feeling “less than”. In an environment of acceptance and nurturance, when you allow yourself to be “big” and brilliant, you give others permission to do the same.

The next time someone tells you you’re “full of yourself”, think about what that could really mean. When you’re so full of the best you can be — your most brilliant, your most loving and compassionate, you don’t have room to be petty, competitive or small. So don’t hold back. Notice what’s cool about you….praise yourself. Do the same for someone else today. Giving others the space to be themselves and grow will allow them to let their guard down and give you space to be your authentic self. Maybe then you’ll be better able to give yourself “permission” to have what you want.

Sheila Adams, M.A. Organization Development, draws on 16 years in
business as entrepreneur, executive, trainer, and coach, to guide
you toward living your vision. For more information about
workshops, teleclasses, and coaching customized for your success,
visit The Learning Edge Coaching web site at
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