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Lessons from traveling an unpaved, dusty road with strangers.

We’d picked up a couple of guys whose van had broken down on the side of the road – like you do when you’re in a relatively small city in Costa Rica and your driver seems to know everyone.

Turns out they were headed to the same town I was. I had been feeling kind of silly being the sole passenger in a van that sat 8. Plus I was happy for the company/distraction from the nearly 2 hour drive down the bumpiest, dustiest unpaved road I’ve ever experienced.

I got to talking with my new friends, and we covered all the particulars of where we were all from and what we were doing bumping along this road, headed for the coast.

Then, as the best conversations with new people do, things began meandering to bigger topics like parenting, travel, wellness, passions, and freedom.

Shrinking to Fit an Assumed Standard of Comfort

I mentioned I’d just come back from a 3-week honeymoon and made a quick turnaround to Costa Rica. One of the guys responded with something to the effect of:

“Wow! Five weeks of traveling around the world! That’s amazing!”

I quickly began backtracking, saying how my life isn’t usually this way, that this was a very special circumstance with the honeymoon and the baby on the way, and a series of other statements meant to dampen how awesome my life appeared.

The conversation wound on as our driver navigated a couple of near-misses with some livestock and other cars. I gave my traveling companions hugs when the van dropped me at my destination, and they went on towards their own adventures.

What’s with the dimming?

As I sat in my room later that day thinking how grateful I was for random encounters with strangers who quickly feel like friends, the moment in the conversation where I began making excuses for my recent travel came back in Technicolor.

“Why do I feel the need to downplay how good my life is to random strangers?” I thought to myself.

It’s quite likely these two guys from Austin on a surf vacation were not judging me for taking time off from working to travel with my husband and girlfriends. And even if they were, that was none of my business.

The truth is that I was in the middle of an epically amazing time in my life. I was celebrating marrying the man I love. I was reveling in being an expectant mother. I was following my bliss and heading off to spend a week dancing with a group of incredible women.

And it was, indeed, amazing.

Yet I found myself trying to cover my own amazingness with just enough dulling agents to make two random men I barely knew feel more comfortable. And I was doing it based entirely on an unverified assumption that what I had going on was even making them uncomfortable in the first place.

I know you know this, and I do, too, but we all need to be reminded:

When we dim our own light the whole world gets a little bit darker. (Tweet it!)

May we share our stories of glory with glee.

May we recount our revelations with rapture instead of regret.

May we spread our joy without apology.

May we let others in on what’s amazing in our lives without turning down the volume.

May we choose our velocity and brightness based on what feels best to us, rather than what makes those around us feel comfortable.

Because, when we do, we incite expansion. And the whole world gets a little bit brighter.

P.S. The Annual Hay House World Summit starts on May 9th.  Designed to empower, heal and transform, this summit bring together over 100 leading experts, authors and spiritual teachers. I’ll be sharing some new insights about money and worth that you won’t want to miss during the summit. For more information, click HERE.

  • Raven says:

    Yay Kate! This is a lesson I keep having to learn, catching myself in the act. Thanks for the lovely reminder. And congrats on your new adventure into parenting!

  • Melissa says:

    Thank YOU! Needed that today! I ALWAYS ‘dim’ my glory.

  • Zoe says:

    Thank you for the reminder to let my light SHINE, Kate! I am re-committing to sharing my light more with the world and appreciating the amazing abundance in my life right now.

  • Kate! I so feel you … I’m learning, too, not to shrink, not to get small in the face of compliments and even challenges and not to water down my fab-ness. And I’m trying out a new thing … taking pictures with my arms up, out, and open wide … Seeing how it feels to get bigger, take up more space (instead of less) … and expand. Thank you for being you – you are a bright light and have changed/are changing my life with the way you live yours. Xo! Rachel Camfield … @bizdarling

  • Oh my goodness, I LOVE this so much Kate. I completely recognise myself in what you’ve said – many times I’ve played myself down, made myself smaller than I am. And of course, this really doesn’t serve anyone! Thank you for sharing this. :)

  • LOVE THIS. Absolutely love this.
    I feel exactly the same way… I have built a half million dollar company in two years, working from home. I have a 12 year old stepson whom I homeschool as well as a 1 year old and a 3 year old, and I realized I couldn’t do it along so I brought my husband home full-time last year from his sucky corporate job and now, with full control of our income and time, we are picking up and travelling so frequently now that our neighbors are wondering if we still live here anymore.
    And I find myself “dimming” the story because I don’t want to make others feel uncomfortable, but this truly is a Golden Age in my life. And it hasn’t always been this way, right? I had my year of Hell when we lost a cat, a dog, 6 cars and a baby… I had to work crazy hours without pay (and without sleep, because the 3 year old was 1 when I started)… There were trials, and I allowed others to weep with me… But I guess I don’t expect others to rejoice with me in the same way.

    So keep it up, Beautiful! I can’t wait to hear more about how this journey unfolds.

  • Barbara says:

    Love it, love it, love it – thank you, Kate, for being you and sharing it with the world.

  • Staci says:

    Love this message Kate.
    I ponder on why I am always downplaying all the good in my life so it that it doesn’t seem to others that I am boasting… which is such crap when you really think about it – Your words ring true to me… Whats up with the Dimming thing!, I am totally over it starting this min. thanks to your little (BIG) reminder…. xo Staci

    Congratulations on your baby news!.

  • Anke says:

    Your words are always so spot on. I love reading your blog. Keep on being the radiant you.

  • Love it!! what a great reminder Kate … thank you!!!

  • Wendymm says:

    Oh I love this! I realize I do this, too, and vow to stop it this very day! I am lucky, lucky, lucky!

  • Kimmy says:

    I’ve done this too! The message is “Don’t worry – despite temporary appearances, my life isn’t really very good”. WTF? Note to self – MUST STOP THIS! MUST SHINE INSTEAD! Thanks Kate, for the reminder.

  • Suzy Carroll says:

    Oh Sh#*! I’ve been doing this in my own way. Making my “new life” sound not as great as I feel it is. And since it’s our thoughts that create our existence – yeesh! I was meditating about guidance this morning…thanks for the little tap on the shoulder! :-) xo

  • Karen says:

    Hi Kate!
    I loved every word of this post.
    One – Congratulations on your baby!!!! That’s beautiful.
    Two – I tend to do the same, undermine my own accomplishment because I don’t want to seem like I am gloating. I am learning to accept them.

    Thank you for the reminder of this lesson,

    Karen (big hug to you)

  • Laura says:

    Beautiful. Well, I enjoy every person God puts in my path, specially does moments that are just presented to you. As Marianne Williamson says from ACIM: every encounter is a devine connection, my friends always hear me say: It’s all about learning! and it is. Your comments about your story take me back to The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari.
    May God bless you, your husband and the baby!!!!!!!!!!!
    Thank you for sharing.

  • Sandra Lothrop says:

    OMG! I have done this so many times over the years! I wonder if it comes from being socialized (as women, as mothers) to think of others’ comfort first before shining our light too brightly.
    Why would we think our light might diminish someone else, when, in fact, our light and love of what we do can only add to the joy of the world!
    Thank you, Kate, for the reminder!!

  • Selena says:

    Great post!

  • Holly Skinner says:

    Thank you Kate! Great insight and revelation and we are moving to Costa Rica this fall for 6 months. Can’t wait!

  • Megan says:

    So habitual, thanks for the reminder!

  • Sharon says:

    I think this way like I am bragging but as Marianne Williams says“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

  • Moira says:

    Yes! Yes! Yes!

    ‘May we let others in on what’s amazing in our lives without turning down the volume.’

    Thanks for the reminder and affirmation Kate, my husband and I were having a similar conversation yesterday, we were talking about how easy it is to commiserate with others for fear of being judged, if you tell them your experience is actually a positive one. Just shared this with him too.

  • lynn says:

    Thanks for discussing this! For women, I’ve come to realize there is an unconscious programing telling us to dim our light so that others feel more comfortable. Sharing your experience dissolves that belief and helps others shine their light.

  • Paula says:

    Yes, yes, YES!

    Kate, this happens to me all the time-when friends reflect “Sounds like you are having a good day!” Not to mention BIG events, like moving to Portland, ME! I really start to pay attention to the magic word “HAPPY” and drag a smile into the mix. Strange, isn’t it, how I have a hard time even smiling about my wondrous life at times?? Life is ever so SERIOUS and important, difficult and …phewey!

    Thanks for the GRAND reminder to Shout It Out!

    Much love and light in your daily adventures!

    Paula

  • Tricia says:

    This is exactly what led me to creating my motto “own your Awesome”. I found myself doing the same thing years ago and decided to stop and fully own it all and I found I inspired others, not made them feel small. And that is why this motto is now the name of My Affirmation deck and more products! We all need to OWN OUR AWESOME! Glad you got to have that aha!

  • arlyn says:

    this.is.awesome!!!!

  • Darris says:

    Congratulations on your marriage and baby!

    This was perfect timing for me Kate! I grew up in a family that always (and continues) to tell me to “relax”, don’t get so excited, “you laugh so loud”, etc. I’m 60 years old Kate and still live within those confines . . . I just realized it THEIR issue NOT MINE! My loving husband has been telling me this for years but I didn’t let it in . . . until today. I had another experience of the “tone it down” messages and wanted to scream. The person I’m most frustrated with is me! Thanks for this “hey you!” moment of clarity! You are NEVER too old to learn and grow : )

  • Melinda says:

    Kate,
    First congrats on your Honeymoon and the joy of becoming new parents!!!
    Thank you for the reminder not to hide our enthusiasm even if your not sure what the other person is going through. You might be just what they need for that day!
    Lots of love Mel

  • Stacey says:

    This is a beautiful expression of how full life can be when we open ourselves up to new experiences. I’m inspired! Congratulations on the honeymoon and the bambino. Very exciting time!

  • Christa George says:

    Thank you so much for going public with your great insight of
    “dimming your joy, your happiness” so others won’t feel insecure or uncomfortable.
    It struck me that I am doing the same when around my children (married) and their partners in order not to make them jealous or envious or feel inferior to me. And this constant “downplaying and dimming” of my joy and accomplishments in life has made me lose much of my self-confidence, happiness and freedom to live my life to the fullest. Realizing this now , I believe it has weakened my immune system and within in the last years up to now I have had so many respiratory illnesses as never before.
    I will make changes now in my life and let my light shine.
    Thank you again! Danke schoen! (I am German living in the US right now)
    Christa

    I have

  • Heather says:

    Hi Kate
    Your story reminded me of when I first got my Pilots Licence in 1996 and I went to my nephews wedding.
    My sister introduced me to her friend and her friend said to me ‘oh you are the sister that flys!
    My reply was ah yes but I only have a private licence – Not CommerciL
    Well this lady stood in a room full of about 150 people and very loudly said!
    How dare you downgrade yourself like that!
    If I was to ask everyone in this room to put their hand up if they had a Pilots Licence she said there would not be too many. Let alone be a female! You be proud of what you have achieved! Then she followed it up with a hug.
    This has carried with me since and when students come into our flying school and shyly say the same thing I encourage them to feel proud of their achievements,
    This year I took part in the inaugural Woman Pilots Relay for cancer around Australia and as a group we raised $26,000.This event helped me to feel proud to be able to use my achievements to help others in need.
    Great to see over 100 woman pilots proud of their achievements and all the great commaraderie.

  • Dominika says:

    This is a fabulous reminder to truly relish all we’ve accomplished. For much of my life I have been a perpetual “reacher”, always yearning for the next project, event. I’ve never reveled in and truly owned my accomplishments– of which there are many.
    I’ve only been living this truth for the last year (wisdom of menopause) so big kudos to you, Kate, for being able to do so at this pivotal junction in your youth.

    P.S. Is this something that women tend to do more than men? Methinks yes.

  • Hi Kate,
    Thanks so much for sharing!
    You have reminded me to be even more aware of allowing myself to be vibrant and in my truth.
    I can relate it to being loving, I love being loving, sometimes I find myself holding back my loving energy because I perceive that others may not be comfortable with it. Time to let that go!
    Many thanks,
    with love,
    Michelle
    PS Congratulations! May your life be filled with joy with your husband and your growing family! XX

  • Or Shahar says:

    Hi Kate,
    I totally understand and agree with you on many things but I think there is a difference between dimming our light and apologizing for our success and putting things in proportion. For this guys it looked like your life is all just fun and game and I think it was right to put things in their true place: this was an exception and you did work very hard to be able to afford it. This, in my opinion, spreads much more light because a give a picture that is real and not a dream. It says: “I’ve done it, so you can also” and not just “I’m privileged, yay me”

  • Ah, dimming! Thank you so much for this post. It’s such an insidious little habit for me. You remind me to be more aware. Thank you, also, for your Hay House Summit interview. I listened to it yesterday, and FINALLY had some long, LONG overdue epiphanies and integrations last night as I journaled. Your money questions were just what I needed, and I’m so very grateful.

  • Brenda says:

    Hey Kate, I love this too. I have been living a parallel travel and lusty life to your own. And at 66! And I have been birthing my fourth career, watercolor painting in earnest. Today I sat in a olive field in Tuscany sketching the basis for a study of the hills in Chianti, Radda to be specific. The bugs hummed, the red poppies swayed and I rejoiced in the sunshine and breeze as I spent the four hours.
    I find that I sometimes downplay the joyous life created for me.
    My problem is that I am not afraid that strangers will judge me, but rather my son of 25 will, And he does. He can’t imagine how I can live this sweet life and not prepare one for him, as I always had in his youth. It’s an odd dilemma, one that with my extending love, I hope will one day counter his sadness.
    Just wanted to add a layer to the onion for consideration.
    Baci.

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