Why is ‘Shining’ a Daring Act?


As published in Sibyl Magazine, February 2015

(#2 of a series of 12 articles on ‘Unlocking Your Sacred Power’)

Shining our full light should be second nature. It’s what we did when we were newborns. It’s what we do when we’re relaxed or ‘in our element’ – whether that’s horseback riding, hiking trails, or when we’re in love. During those times we radiate joy, happiness and comfort – with ourselves, with others and Life. But for so many of us, shining becomes limited to rare occasions, those special weekends, holidays or times when we’re with our closest friends, rather than our everyday state of being.

We lose our light gradually as we accommodate to the needs and demands of our world, first to our parents, then to our teachers, and later to our supervisors at work. We hold back parts of who we are in order to stay safe, to fit in, to please others, to avoid conflict, to get ahead and earn a living.   Accommodation isn’t bad. It allows us to negotiate unfamiliar situations and helps us meet our needs for love, safety, belonging and more. Often, it’s the price of admission to success at school, in the workplace, in our homes and community.

The problem is this. As we put aside more and more of our true needs, values, desires and capacities it’s easy to lose or forget who we are in the process. We can end up identifying with the image we present to the world, the person our job or others want us to be, rather than the person we truly are. Or we can live our lives chasing a definition of success we don’t really believe.

A turning point in my journey was surfacing a hidden belief – that it wasn’t safe to be truly, fully visible.   Speaking with other women, I soon realized I was far from alone. Buried deep within is the fear that if we allowed ourselves to be truly transparent, we could risk our safety, security, success, and the support and nurturance of those we loved. It’s an ancient archetypal wound that many women carry – the fear that our tribe could abandon us to die us at the edge of the village if we dared speak our truth or be who were truly are.

But there’s a deeper truth. As the Earth and our world face unprecedented dangers and challenges, our old comfort zones and identities only offer the illusion of safety. There’s a larger definition of safety at stake. The future of our world asks women to own our full brilliance, to live by our most cherished values, and to speak our deepest truths. To live, speak and act not only on our own behalf, but for the entire web of life.

Shining our full light can entail risk and enormous courage. But fearing and refusing our brilliance can pose an even bigger risk.


  1. Vivienne Simon says:

    So true. I found and transformed this belief in myself, and have seen it holding back so many clients. Not only women, men as well. Wonderful article Marilyn!

  2. Love this potent reminder, Marilyn. While fear of visibility was never my core issue, it was certainly there, cleverly masked as a “preference” that I then thought I was doing good to honor as an inherently shy introvert.

    But I’ve discovered (and am continuing to discover) just how much my calling requires me to be visible. As you so eloquently said, “there’s a larger definition of safety at stake” and our world needs us to “live, speak and act not only on our own behalf, but for the entire web of life”.

    Not doing so comes with a deep soul angst that can actually become more intense than the unconscious fear of visibility. I agree that it can take enormous courage to shine boldly and brilliantly, and yes there are risks, but having gone for it, I can say that it’s fully worth it!

  3. I love the point you make that giving in to our fears is ultimately an act of withholding our gifts from the world. I realized this years ago and it was very humbling to recognize that I cared more about “feeling safe” than I apparently did about helping others. This is probably the most pervasive and almost universal fear among women and among the helper-healers of the world. We carry so much history, both personal and collective.

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