A Coaching Power Tool Created by Stephanie Townsend
(Life coach, NEW ZEALAND)
To know what you prefer instead of humbly saying Amen to what the world tells you you ought to prefer, is to have kept your soul alive. Robert Louis Stevenson
The Inner Light
The Inner Light is the inner part of us that holds our authentic self. It holds our values, our beliefs, our talents, our skills, our dreams, our creativity; it is the part of us that makes us who we are.
When we feel that something is right or something is wrong – that is our inner light at work. It acts as a guide that takes us down the path that will lead us to our true purpose in life.
Hide Your Inner Light
When are hiding our inner light, we are putting a false perception out to the world of what we would like them to see. We are living our lives according to what we believe the world – society, our families, and our friends – expects of us. Quite often these expectations that we believe others have of us are not true, they are of our own creation. We develop a false identity that we work every day to maintain. We listen to what others tell us we should or should not do; what we should or should not like; what we should or should not say; what we should or should not think; what we should or should not wear; what we should or should not look like.
We become afraid that if others see us for whom we really are they will disapprove or no longer accept us. We keep our creativity and ideas to ourselves for fear that we will be attacked, rejected or ridiculed.
We take on a set of values that we believe are acceptable to have and we live our lives according to them. We become that wrapped up in what we think the world wants us to be, we can no longer see which part of us is real. We start to look to the outside world and other people to give us the answers that we have deep inside us, because we can no longer sort the answers that are true to us from those that have been introduced by others.
Living this way can be very draining and exhausting. Because we are ignoring our authentic self, we feel unfulfilled and lonely, and we live in fear of being “found out”. We work so hard at fitting in that we lose who we really are. Our inner light is hidden, and as a result so is everything that makes us unique and special – we are denying the world the gifts that we can offer.
Shine Your Inner Light
When we shine our inner lights, we are showing the world who we really are. We are living the life that we want to live; one that reflects our core values, desires and needs. We are no longer wearing the mask that we want everyone to see. The mask is off and we are showing the world who we really are.
When our inner lights are shining – it is visible to everybody. We are happy, content, and fulfilled. We know who we truly are, and what’s more we accept and own who we are. We have a deep relationship with ourselves. We make decisions based on what our gut tells us – they may not always work out, but we know they were the right decisions because we were true to who we are. We acknowledge what others tell us, but we don’t own it. We can take on what fits with our true core values and we can leave the rest.
Life isn’t always rosy and easy – we still feel fear and pain – but we can accept that it is part of life. We may not have everything that we want in life, but everything that we do have – we want!
When our inner light is shining, honesty is also shining through; honesty about who we are, what we think, and how we feel. This doesn’t mean that we have to open up about everything to everyone. What it does mean is that we don’t feel the need to agree with everybody else just to be accepted. We follow what our hearts are telling us to do and we accept the fact that not everybody will agree with us.
Shining our inner lights allows us to be. It allows us the freedom to choose for ourselves. It shows us the beauty that we have within us, and gives us the strength and motivation to move towards the life that we want to live.
Some years ago, I took a look at my life and I thought to myself “How did I get here? Who am I?” It was frightening. I had come through a dark period and I was beginning to emerge into the light again and to start living my life, but I had no idea of how I was going to do that. I had worn a mask for so long trying desperately to fit in that I had no idea who I was underneath the mask. I could see that the lie that I was living certainly wasn’t serving me. I was filled with that much anxiety and fear all the time that most people kept their distance. I wore a mask in order for others to see how strong I was – instead they saw anger, aggression and fear. I had no idea what was important to me anymore. Whenever I got a glimpse of something that might appear to be something that I could be good at – I allowed those around me who didn’t know me, or even like me that much, talk me out of it.
The only people who really knew me were my husband and family. They knew me better than I did. I refused to let anyone else in in case I would be exposed for the fraud that I was.
On my journey back to my inner light, I took some wrong turns but I eventually found my way. I now live my life according to my true core values, I allow others to see the real me even though it’s very scary at times, I voice my opinion even when it might not be the popular opinion, I say “no” often to things that don’t fit in with who I am, I stand up for who I am and I stand up for my loved ones – and for those who haven’t yet found their inner light. I am not selfish – it’s not all about me, me, me – I do care about others and I don’t trample all over them so that I can live the life that I want to live. If somebody needs me and I can help – I will! If my husband and family want something that I don’t – we compromise. And I am good with that – I accept that is part of life. But I do put my needs first, I have to – if I don’t look after myself, I certainly can’t look after anybody else.
I listen to my inner light and I allow it to be my guide. I no longer hide it from the rest of the world – I allow it to shine through me. Not everybody will accept me for who I am and I am good with that.
I like to compare people to art. A piece of art can have many admirers who can see the beauty in it. There are others who look at the art and just see it as okay – nothing to write home about. And there are others who will strongly dislike the art, maybe because it brings out a part in them that they don’t like very much. When applied to people, some will love us, some will think we are okay and some will dislike us.
But if we stay true to our authentic selves, we will always shine beauty into somebody’s life.
Ask yourself the following question:
- What are my core values?
Now ask yourself:
- Are these really my core values or are they the core values that I would like to have?
- Are these really my core values or are they the core values that I believe others will approve of?
- What are my true core values?
- Am I living aligned with my true core values?
- Am I wearing a mask?
- How much do others’ opinions matter to me?
- How much say do I have in my own life?
When a client is hiding their inner light, a spark will always remain. This spark can be seen when a client is speaking about something they are passionate about, when they are talking to us about something that resonates with their true core values. They become animated, their voice has more energy and life in it, their eyes sparkle, they almost glow –you can feel their inner light shining through them.
By capturing that moment and holding that mirror up to the client we can show them what we can see. We can do this by mirroring back to them what they said word for word. We can offer them feedback and tell them what we feel and sense when we hear them talk about their passion.
We can ask questions like:
- When you spoke about ________________ tell me what was going on internally for you?
- How did you feel when you said ___________________?
The client might use words such as “should” or “have to”. They can appear withdrawn and unsure – maybe even a little self-conscious. There might be quite a bit of resentment present for certain people that they don’t really want in their lives and activities that they don’t really want to be doing. When they speak about their passion, along with everything I described above – there might also be a sense of “that will never happen” or “that’s just a wild fantasy” about it.
By really listening to our clients, their words, their tones, their silences – we can again hold that mirror up to them. We can mirror back to them the words that they are using, we can offer them feedback about the tone that we are hearing. We can ask them to further explore what they are not saying in those silences.
When a client is hiding their inner light, chances are they don’t really know what their values are or they feel that their values wouldn’t be accepted by others. Exploring this further and helping the client identify their true core values can be very enlightening for the client.
Some questions that we can ask are:
- I am hearing “should” or “have to” – can you tell me more about this?
- I am sensing _______________ - would this be accurate? Can you tell me more?
- When you spoke about__________________ your energy level seemed to drop. Am I correct? Is this something you would like to explore further?
- What would it look like if your dream did come to fruition? How would that feel?
- Is that task aligned with your values?
- Which of your core values does that action align with?
- You say that ____________ is one of your core values. In what ways do you honour that value?