How changing your view of abundance can change your view of life
Ever since I was little, I’ve felt this need, when the spotlight is on me, to deflect the attention and put it somewhere else. Partly it’s because I’m uncomfortable with the limelight. I’m ok with having the attention of one or two people in a conversation, but any more than that and I blush. I become suddenly aware people are listening to me. Looking at me.
Is what I’m saying worth listening to? Is my hair doing something weird?
Recently, though, I was walking our dog around the neighborhood, listening to an audiobook I was really enjoying. I’m not sure what the look on my face was. It must have been something interesting or compelling (?) because I noticed people looking at me as I passed by them. Was I walking taller, suddenly? Could there have been a bounce in my step that I didn’t even notice?
Cue, the a-ha moment
Our inner world is reflected in our expressions, our demeanor, the way we carry ourselves, the energy we put out. When I’m feeling self-conscious on the street or at a party, my body must give off stay-away-from-me vibes. My face must betray my inner turmoil (do my brows furrow?). My mannerisms must hint at the lack of confidence I feel in my thoughts, my voice, the way I look (do I shrink, walk faster, stare at the sidewalk?).
But that day walking the dog was different. My vibes must have been happy ones. Funny thing is, I noticed the glances and the attention, but while I thought it was strange, I didn’t try to hide from it, either. So, I’ve discovered, feeling badly about myself, buying into the negative inner chatter, makes me not want to have attention. But feeling amazing, having confidence and sensing a greater connection with the world around me, makes me pretty ok with attention. (Cue, the a-ha moment.)
I’d often turn down my volume
The other reason I deflect the spotlight is I’m afraid people around me will feel badly that they don’t have it. As if the world comprises things that are measured exclusively in finite terms. The money I earn means someone else is now poorer. The love I receive means someone else goes without. What I have in abundance means someone else lacks.
So, I’d often turn down my volume, make myself less conspicuous, speak less, shine less, not glow as brightly.
When I was six, I remember my first-grade teacher asked me to read a page in a book she was holding up in front of the class as we all sat around her, cross-legged on the carpet. Other kids she’d called on said they couldn’t read it. I didn’t want to make them feel bad that I could, so I told her I couldn’t read the page either. In high school, I’d hide my grades so my friends couldn’t see my A’s, in case they felt bad about their B’s. At work, I’d downplay my successes and praise my colleagues for their work, instead.
And it was only partly to make other people feel better about themselves. The other part was my hope that they’d feel better about me. If I shone less, took up less space, I wouldn’t offend the people around me. I convinced myself I had to be small to be loved.
Love is always available
But this is a misguided view of how abundance works. Bob Goff, in his book, Love Does (coincidentally, the audiobook I was listening to on my recent, apparently bouncy walk with the dog), talks about the two kinds of people in the world. Those who think of love as a reservoir, filled with a finite amount of abundance that they’re afraid at some point will run out. And those who understand that love is a river that is forever flowing, always replenishing itself, always available.
So while feeling guilty about feeling great is a strangely convoluted way of engaging with the world, it’s also just plain wrong.
That’s why these days, I’m working on not hiding, not shielding my glow when I’m happy and riding high, not deflecting the spotlight. Not storing part of myself away so others can have (and love me) more. Not trying to control how abundance gets distributed in the world around me.
Trying to make other people happy at the expense of my own joy is not only terrible for me, it’s limiting for them. What do I know about what will make the people around me happy in each moment? How would that even be possible? It’s just a whole lot easier to accept and embrace the awesome moments I have for what I know them to be and accept and embrace everyone else when they have their moments.
Plus, the positive energy and abundance I channel can only help fuel the people around me and make them shine brighter, too. Which is pretty cool.