February 15th, 2013 10:27 EST
Come Out Of Your Closet: Stop Hiding And Start Living Your Greatness
I was the gay kid in a large Italian family. And through church and family traditions, I heard loud and clear that there was something wrong "damaged " about people like me. So I spent many years in the closet hiding who I really was. I lived in constant fear of being found out.
We all have reasons why we hide in the closet " things that are true for us but others tell us it is not hip or cool or the way to be, do or live; we are have things about us that we fear others may discover. It may be the opera-loving kid in a family of rock music lovers. It may be the world traveler in a family of farmers. It may be the vegetarian in a family of meat-eaters. Or it could be being gay, or not believing in your family`s religious traditions, or spending your days at a kiln making pottery. When we feel like there is something about us that doesn`t fit in, we hide. Hiding, for whatever reason, diminishes our greatness, contribution and impact; hiding limits us.
We are born awesome "exactly as we are. We are given the window into our awesome" through our passions, talents and dreams. We have glimpses of things we love and are passionate about " that just appeal to each of us. But we fail to see these, or allow ourselves to realize and live them when we hide.
Mike Dooley, in his book Infinite Possibilities, shares that we receive direction and guidance in the forms of our dreams and desires, as well as from our hunches, instincts and impulses " it`s our feelings that help us find our unique way. The more we connect to, identify with and allow ourselves to be guided by what is truly in us, the more we create lives that fit us, and in the process, bring what we do best to our world.
Many spiritual teachings share that we are each gifted in particular ways. And the reason for these gifts is that we each have a built in ability to have an amazing life " we have a built-in competitive advantage and success formula that makes great at some things, and love some things. Connecting these to our world creates the ability to show up and make a difference in our world. It may be in art or the arts. It may be in engineering, creativity or imagination. It may be in extraordinary passion for others, for teaching kids or for raising kids. Each of us has something to contribute, in exactly our way, that can make our lives and our world better. But this can only happen when we take our entire self out of the closet. Hiding any part of ourselves shortchanges who we can be and how we show up to life.
We have glimpses into our deepest passions and talents when we are kids before we start to let others tell us who to be and what to think. Some can dance. Others love math. Some can build a business from an idea, others can imagine galaxies and stars far beyond what our eyes can see, or are fascinated with health, bugs, trees or bacteria. Our ability to follow these dreams and live these abilities happens when we have the courage, support and guidance to discover our true selves without judgment, requirement or expectations. Our success in living these abilities happens when we accept who and what we are, knowing that there is not only a place for us, but a need for us "exactly as we are" even if it is different than what society, family or friends say is right. What is right for each of us can only be defined by each of us. That is the greatest gift in life " the choice to be who we truly are " to know it and to live it.
Coming out of my closet was my way of challenging the limiting beliefs I grew up with that being gay made me somehow less valuable than others. Being gay wasn`t the problem " it was just a life issue that sent me into hiding; that meant the rest of me " all of the other attributes " were also hidden. Limiting any part of you limits all parts of you.
Greatness doesn`t necessarily show up in the churchgoers, the wealthy, the kind or the generous. It does, however, always show up in the courageous and in the authentic because this is where life gets imagined, realized and fully lived.
I believe most of us move between two identities depending on the situations in our lives. There is the "TrueYou" the real, authentic and courageous you that is guided by your dreams, passions and talents, to be who you really are, and to show up in the world as you are no matter the commentary, bringing your best to it. Then there is the You-On-View " the inauthentic you that you allow others to dictate what to be, what to believe, where to live, who to marry, what to wear, what to drive " so you feel like you fit in.
Science, religion and philosophy rarely agree on anything, but they agree that each of us is hardwired, inspired or gifted to be different, unique and one-of-a kind. We were not born to blend. Society wants us to fit in. But we were born to stand out. Our uniqueness is our value " and it is this value that we bring to the world. It takes all types to keep a powerful and successful world growing, improving, and changing.
As we each listen to our dreams, desires, talents and passions, we get information about the opportunities that fit us " to live a life we love, and to bring our best to the world. As we connect to our life, not only do our deepest and most divinely-inspired dreams appear, but we show up in our world so much more present and aware. This expands our dreams as we find applications to bring our dreams into reality in our world. The more we tune in, and the more we allow ourselves to be who we really are, the more information we get to know how to show up and stand out in life. This requires the courage and support to get out of the closet.
I am reminded of the quote, What you think of me is none of my business. This is because my greatest value in life is to be true to who I am, to use my best abilities to not only build a life I love, but to bring this best to improve the world. I can`t do this if I am in the closet hiding because I have permitted others have more to say about me than I do. I can`t do this if I am in the dark or ashamed about who I am and the unique abilities and qualities I was born with. I can`t do this if I am pressured to look and act and sound like everyone else in my country, town, political party, religion, family or friendship circle. I can`t do this if society determines who fits and who doesn`t fit. We all fit. We are all just right.
Greatness is innate; we were born great. We use each day of lives to discover this greatness (because we didn`t get an owner`s manual that shares this up front) and to learn ways to connect it to our world. Every time we hide we limit our ability to discover and live our greatness. Greatness requires us to be out of the dark " out of the closet " present, aware, confident and proud.
So, what put you and keeps you in the closet? How does it limit your life, your greatness, your potential and your contribution to the world? What if you were not in the closet " what if you allowed the TrueYou to be the real you? How would you choose to show up and connect your best to what your world needs? And one final question, how awesome could your life be?
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