The Importance of Being "Shiny"
Updated: Sep 27, 2022
What comes into your mind when you think of being "shiny"? (I've got to be honest, the first thing for me is usually the giant crab monster in Moana!) But after that, it's one of the key values I use to guide my life and my work. After the wonderful time had at the Space to Shine Retreat and the launch of my new membership, I thought it would be the perfect time to play a bit with what shining means and how we can use it as a tool for growth.
If you've been around here for a while, you'll know that I'm a bit of a word nerd. I love language and almost nothing makes me happier than finding the right word for something, especially if there's some hidden deeper meaning going on in there too. "To shine" comes from Old English and at its roots, it means "to shed light, be radiant, be resplendent, or illuminate". I picked it for that mixture - there's both being and doing in there. Yin and yang. Stillness and action.
The Act of Shining
Action is sometimes the part of coaching that we find easier to conceptualise. There's something satisfying about creating a plan and then going off and doing it. Our bodies back this up with a nice dose of dopamine when we tick something off the list - it physically feels good when an action is completed. (It's partly what makes screen time so compulsive - technology is often designed to give us a series of dopamine hits to keep us coming back to our devices again and again).
So let's break down the "doing" part of shining...
To shed light: Human brains are built for blind spots and automatic habitual reactions. It's a survival thing - we have cognitive shortcuts to help us figure out what information is immediately important and what can be filtered out to come back to later (or even discard completely). Really helpful in hunter-gatherer times, but now... not always the best.
For example, our brains are much more likely to remember one specific or strange event than all the times the same event went, well... uneventfully. If the memory is "hey don't go down into that valley, remember how Ogg got eaten by a sabre-tooth tiger" then that's a helpful shortcut to have. It's always preferable to avoid tiger maulings! But if the event is "hey remember that one time your boss snapped at you when you gave an idea in a meeting" then spotlighting that is going to raise you into a "danger" state in every meeting you have with your normally delightful manager.
Shedding light on these habits is the first step in changing things up. When you recognise your patterns, plan a different way and then spot yourself in the habitual pattern, you can act differently and create powerful change in your life. It's one of the core pillars of all my coaching packages for a reason!
To illuminate: I believe that the activism of women and trans people is one of the most powerful forces in our world. When you consider the historical significance of movements for women's suffrage and labour rights, the vital role that trans people played in the fight for racial equality, LGBTQIA+ rights and anti-fascism, and the important work being done now in the protection of indigenous lands, climate change, societal issues like violence against women and girls, the Black Lives Matters movement... we're a pretty badass force for change.
I wonder though - how many of us set out to be activists? I know I didn't! I often describe myself as an accidental activist - somewhere along the line I realised my voice had power and I learned how to use it in bigger and better ways to create the most change. Looking back now, I can see that it started with a desire to illuminate what I had experienced.
Unless you are my secret doppelgänger, you won't fully know what it's like to be a bisexual survivor of abuse with systemic lupus erythematosus, Sjögren's Syndrome and fibromyalgia and potentially undiagnosed ADHD. (If you do I would LOVE to have a coffee with you!) You might have insights into some parts, often where our stories overlap, but there will be facets of it that you just won't have thought about. Activism - to me - begins with helping you see the lived reality of a situation so you'll join our change-making movement.
Janet Mock puts it brilliantly: “I believe that telling our stories, first to ourselves and then to one another and the world, is a revolutionary act. It is an act that can be met with hostility, exclusion, and violence. It can also lead to love, understanding, transcendence, and community.”
Becoming and being shiny
Sometimes my coachees say to me that the "being bit is harder because you aren't doing anything". I get it - embodying something is a lot less tangible, and rather than one big action it's a series of micro-actions, sustained over time. When you start trying on a new way of being, there can be a level of awareness and returning to the intention that sometimes takes a while to feel natural.
So let's play with it for a minute...
Being radiant: if something is radiant, it's sending out energy into the world. Lightbulbs radiate light so that we can see. Radiators send heat out into the room. Microwaves radiate energy to cook our food (and heat up the odd forgotten cup of tea). If someone is radiant, they're sending energy out into the world. Often, that energy can be called love.
So here's my thing about being a radiator of love... it needs to happen in ever-expanding spheres. And it needs to start with you. Just like a candle can't light a room the way a 100W bulb can, trying to be loving towards others is less effective if our own tank of love is low. Self-love is a powerful signal boost to all the love we want to give our nearest and dearest, our wider circle, and the world at large.
I believe that if we want to serve our people the way they deserve, we need to have so much self-love we shine with it. It's the best way to encourage others, and a wonderful example to set for those who look up to us as well. Here's my question for you - do you fill up your self-love tank first, or jump straight into the service of others? (I think I can guess your answer...)
Being resplendent: I'm not going to lie - this is the one that I still consciously practice embodying from time to time. Resplendence is about being attractive - not necessarily through conventional beauty, but through magnetism. Do you know one of those people who isn't going to be on the front cover of a magazine, but there's just "something about them". It can be hard to define, they just have "a quality" - they're fun to be around, interesting, uniquely and unabashedly themselves. They might even be a little triggering - how can they just go about their lives giving 0 fucks about what other people think?! Who does that?!
They are people who let themselves shine, without judgement. A lucky few are born that way. Most of us learn how, practising in a safe relationship and then gradually turning the shine up and up until you're dazzling the world without noticing.
So now you know why I think shining is important, let's have a chat if you want to learn how to turn up your shine!