You probably don't make a habit of talking about your fabulousness. We've been taught that even the smallest amount of boasting is egomaniacal. And sometimes the more we achieve, the more negative reactions we receive (think scoring a big promotion at work only to become the new target of office gossip). Both of these things lead us to downplay our greatest gifts. Worse still is when we don't even realize we have talent to begin with. But hitting the dimmer switch on your specialness makes the world a duller, darker place for all of us. Instead, follow these four steps to unearthing your unique potential and letting it loose!
1. Stop looking outside yourself. Our culture places a huge emphasis on external success: the perfect job or wedding or weight. But this totally blocks your inner awareness and can injure your self-esteem. A powerful way to focus your attention inward is to meditate. For one minute a day, breathe in for five seconds, hold your breath for five seconds, then exhale for five seconds. Over time, your inner voice will start chatting you up.
2. Be more real. Embracing your quirks is hardÃ¢â‚¬”not conforming takes guts! But hear this: There's nothing cooler, sexier, or greater than your real personality. Identify moments when you're not being authentic (perhaps in the elevator with coworkers?) and go out of your way to be more you.
3. Zoom in on what you truly love to doÃ¢â‚¬”and make time to actually do it. Maybe you love to paint but haven't picked up a brush in a while. Or you're really into music but you listen to the same albums for months on end. Not sure what inspires you? Well, simply pay attention to what you do effortlessly. What do you do when you're by yourself, just because you love it? What do others compliment you on? It could be as simple as styling your BFF before a big date. Your talent existsÃ¢â‚¬”you just have to learn how to see it.
4. Step into the spotlight. Share your talents with others. Paint something for a pal or post your rockin' Spotify playlist to Facebook. Pass along the things that make you happyÃ¢â‚¬”it's not arrogant. Show friends, family, and coworkers what makes your heart beat faster. When they praise you, accept it with a simple, heartfelt "thank you." (Don't demur. Never demur!) Remember, shine bright, always!
Gabrielle Bernstein is the New York Times best-selling author of May Cause Miracles: A 40-Day Guidebook of Subtle Shifts for Radical Change and Unlimited Happiness.
illustration: Kagan McLeod