“To funnel your expression of life through the narrowness of another’s anticipated response is the beginning of death. There is another way.”
-Ken Carey, The Third Millenium
In the past I have lived a good deal of life shining at half-wattage, letting my light dim and flicker for fear of criticism and rejection. I’ve gradually baby-stepped my way towards diminishing the power this fear has had over me, and would like to share with you a great adventure I had in learning to let my full incandescent light shine no matter what the neighbors might think.
I was presenting at a weekend personal growth seminar, and on the breaks my assignment was to offer born-in-the-moment songs to the passersby. As they strolled past I found myself asking a select few if they wanted to hear a song. I noticed that only if a person gave me a welcoming smile and acknowledged my existence did I ask. The ones who did not did not get a song offer. I told myself that I was just respecting their boundaries, but after a while it dawned on me that gently inquiring if a person wanted to hear a song was not exactly invading their space. Could it be that what was really holding me back was fear of rejection, cleverly masquerading as courtesy? It seemed so!
What was I so afraid of? The worst they could say was no. Perhaps when I shied away from reaching out to others it was my own inner critic I was protecting myself from, the shadowy pain of self-rejection. Perhaps it wasn’t their response I was scared of but my own scary shame stories, stories about there being something wrong with me when someone does not respond the way I wanted.
I went home from that weekend entertaining a penetrating inquiry: How much have I missed while hiding my love and my gifts behind the fear of rejection? It was a powerful question, and with the answer came waves of grief. The truth was that I had missed out on countless moments of connection with others. I had missed a tremendous amount of joy, fun, and miraculous experiences while hiding my light under a bushel for fear of rejection. I had missed out on living my mission.
My grief brought me naturally to an inner resolve to not let the fear of rejection put a dam between myself and my heart’s expression ever again.
Three days later I was doing mundane tasks on my computer, feeling lonely and disconnected, emotions brought on by a conversation the likes of which can be heard at private pity parties worldwide: “I hate this mundane day! Why can’t my entire life be like the conferences and seminars I go to on weekends where I get to sing and connect with people? These weekdays of doing the business side of my work behind a computer are so boring. Where’s the fun? Where’s the magic? I hate this!”
A question from my higher self crashed the pity party: “What can you do to get yourself out of this space and into the sweet flow of love’s expression?” Sometimes answers to these kinds of questions come in abstract subtleties. This time was different. Before fear and logic had a chance to talk me out of the outrageous instructions I was getting, I grabbed my guitar and headed to the beach to create my own middle-of-the-week personal growth seminar on how to let go of the fear of rejection and bring magic to any moment.
My game plan was to reach out to strangers and ask if they would like to hear a song. But before I could jump in, I needed some supportive healing energy, a little self-serenade pep-talk. I walked out onto the sand, strumming and singing soothing words to the part of me that was afraid.
“You can do this, Jedi Scott
Trust the force and the love you’ve got
It’s not fun to keep it quiet
Worried that they might not buy it
Just shine your light and sing your songs
And taking risks will make you strong
Express your joy and make connections
And forget about the fear of rejection”
The first people I reached out to were a couple that looked very much in love. Nervous but willing, I asked if they wanted to be serenaded. They said yes. Asking them only for their names, I made up a song in the moment about what I saw in their eyes and their countenances. They were deeply touched, and I felt energized by their appreciation.
Gaining momentum and courage, I approached other people less and less cautiously as I strolled down the sand. Almost everyone was accepting my offer, and musical moments of connection were opening hearts and spreading smiles all along the stretch of beach.
Eventually I came across two friends of mine who also loved to sing. When I told them what I was up to we joined forces for a while, singing to strangers in three part harmony. What an amazing afternoon I was having at the beach, right in the middle of a ‘mundane’ week, with no conference or workshop in sight!
I approached a collection of beer drinking teenagers hanging out after an afternoon of surfing. I asked them for a topic and made sure the song I created was funny and with language they could relate to. My improvisation was quite a hit, and they invited me to sit down and have a beer with them. We talked about everything from their perceptions about what was happening in Iraq to how they were experiencing growing up in this culture. I was thrilled to have secured their trust and gained entry into their world and their authentic feelings.
One person I reached out to on my walk declined my offer. Checking in to my body to see if any feelings were hurt, I found her response stimulated nothing within me. No stories about her, no stories about myself, just a gentle acceptance. I took a deep breath and wished her a marvelous day, feeling quite free to focus my attention on the next encounter. What a celebration that was!
What I am discovering is that without the fear of rejection every moment is miraculous, and every encounter holy. I may not always have a guitar in hand, but I do always have the ability to connect. I have found no joy as deep and fulfilling as when sticking my neck out to my fellow human beings and lifting the mundane into the miraculous.
“The universe has created in you not a demon or a fool but a magnificent, luminous being. You share eternity’s creative power and all the wondrous beauty of time. Should you fear the spontaneity that will reveal your beauty? Should you fear the expression of your love?
Ken Carey, The Third Millenium
About the Author:
Scott Grace is a coach, a speaker, a modern day transformational troubadour and a lighthearted miracle mischief maker, He travels the United States, Canada and Europe, speaking and singing at conferences, Unity and Religious Science Churches, and wherever people are open to humor and playfulness merging with truth and wisdom. He can be visited at www.scottsongs.com.