Practices for Cultivating Love

Letting Your Light Shine vs. Slave-Driving Yourself

One of the greatest things we can do for ourselves and others is learn to let our light shine, rather than slave-driving ourselves.

Let me explain.

I want to remind you today that you have permission to make mistakes and fail. You also have permission to feel sad, to take naps, and to take a break.

You are already worthy, and your purpose is not to get your “to-do” list done or to win at everything or to be the best.

Your purpose is to let your light shine, and you do this by trying stuff; by making mistakes; by learning from them; by resting; and by being kind to your mind, body, and spirit.

You don’t have to slave-drive yourself. Be respectful, kind, and compassionate to yourself instead. That is how you help your light shine brighter, and we all benefit from that.


Here are some questions to help you put this reflection into practice. I encourage you to write the answers to these questions on a piece of paper or in your journal.

1. Fear-Driven Activities: On your piece of paper or in your journal, make two columns. For the heading of the first column write, “Fear-Driven Activities”. In this column, list three to five things you do from a sense of unworthiness and fear and a need to prove your worthiness, both to yourself and others.

2. Worthiness-Driven Activities: For the heading of your other column, write “Worthiness-Driven Activities”. In this column, list three to five things you do that flow from a sense of your own worthiness and that you do out of kindness, compassion, and respect to yourself and others.

You may struggle to write very many things in this column (many of us do), and it is okay if that is the case.

3. Fear to Worthiness: Look at your “Fear-Driven Activities” column. Choose one of the activities you have listed in this column that is a good and important activity (both for yourself and others) but that you are currently doing from fear. Spend a few moments considering how you can change this activity from a fear-driven activity to a worthiness-driven activity. Write a few sentences explaining this.

4. Game-Changer: Take a look at your “Fear-Driven Activities” column again. Are there any activities on this list that are near impossible to change to worthiness-driven activities? For instance, perhaps these activities have very little connection to kindness, compassion, and respect and are rooted almost entirely in a sense of unworthiness.

Spend a few moments reflecting on activities you do that proceed almost entirely from a fear of unworthiness. Choose one of the activities and write a few sentences explaining how your life would be different if you were to let go of this activity. In addition, write another sentence suggesting one to three worthiness- driven activities you could replace it with.

Acting consistently out of a sense of worthiness rather than fear is a game-changer.

Closing Wish

I wish peace to you today, Friend. I wish you a worthiness-driven life.

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8 thoughts on “Letting Your Light Shine vs. Slave-Driving Yourself”

  1. There are lots of processes at work that I would put into the ‘fear-driven’ category. Meeting deadlines is surely always going to be fear-driven? Or can we change that to gaining a sense of satisfaction? Is that still fear-driven? Very thought-provoking…

    1. I absolutely get this! Deadlines make me feel fearful, too, often. I think changing it to gaining a sense of satisfaction is really helpful. With my deadlines, I try to think of the benefits both for myself and the world that will be gained by finishing deadlines, and I try to let that motivate me instead of fear.

        1. Ali! How did I not know until this very day that you wrote a dissertation!!!!??? I feel like I have somehow not been paying attention at all and am so sorry I missed this. What was your dissertation in?

  2. Oh, it wasn’t a big deal at all, just a final essay really. I did my first degree in English lit and I am actually struggling to remember what my final topic was. Post-colonial literature, with a focus on Alice Walker, Toni Morrison and Toni Cade Bambara…

    1. That sounds like a super big deal to me! I love that. I was going to do graduate studies in English and then got sidetracked into philosophy. And I am not sorry that happened, but I still have a very soft spot for English.

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