Back to resources
10/10/2017

INSPIRATIONAL WOMEN: MARIANNE WILLIAMSON

I am writing a short piece today to a woman of today who’s words are the words that have resonated most strongly for me and for almost all of the audience I have worked with for over 20 years. Her words are well known and yet very rarely attributed to her.

Marianne Williamson was born in Houston, Texas in 1952. Like me she studied theatre. Unlike me she also studied philosophy. She has devoted herself in her time to running a metaphysics bookstore, founding a centre for those with life threatening illnesses and to making sure that AIDS patients received meals during the 1990s. She is a brave philosopher and now widely accepted as one of the most important thinkers of the 21st Century.

Though many will never have heard of her book, A Return To Love, many of the words within it will be familiar to many.

It was in 1996 when I first printed these words and asked my clients to speak them out loud. Almost immediately I could sense the transformation through the client’s articulation of these words. Its magical to watch and listen to.

Patsy Rodenburg taught me that we have a deep emotional connection to our first language. Time and again I have heard this to be true. Listen to a great actor who speaks the poetry of Shakespeare and lets the word articulate itself will know how, despite it appearing archaic on the page, it’s release into the ether from a connected voice brings a deep understanding.

The passage that I am going to share with you seems to cross all boundaries and have meaning for all who have read it. The reason I choose it here is because time and again I see a similar thing happen with each of my female clients when they speak this out loud. They rise.

They rise in their stature. They grow taller. They stand to their height. The space between each vertebra in their back extends. They look strong. Unstoppable. They are connected solidly with the earth. Then they speak and this rich voice resonates around the room in a way that no one thought possible until then.

Most often these words are attributed to Nelson Mandela. Despite many believing that he spoke this words on the day he was released from prison (in fact back when I started using this text, I believed that to be true myself). My research indicates that he didn’t. Whether it is true or not, certainly Nelson Mandela behaved on that day and after as if he were embodying these words.

Here they are. They are from Marianne Williamson’s Return To Love.

Read them out loud. On your own or to yourself in the mirror. Notice what happens for you.

“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.”

Women are often too risk averse to let their own light shine. Tall poppy syndrome suggests popping your head above the parapet results in it being chopped off. However, when they do and take charge of how they are received, that resonance leads up to the top line of the organisation that has given her that opportunity.