There’s been several times in my life when I’ve held myself back from something, not for fear that I wouldn’t do well, but rather because I feared I might do too well. I used to take voice lessons, and I can remember countless times in practice when I would hit a note perfectly, and then tell myself that I wasn’t allowed to have that perfect note because I’d never hit it before. Which is an insane thing to do to yourself, until you think about the fact that once you’ve done something well, you have no excuse to not do well from that point on. It’s easier, and arguably safer, to hold yourself back and stay in your comfort zone.
Don’t. You are not doing yourself any favors this way. I have lost out on so many chances because I didn’t want to let myself be as good as I could be. In my yoga practice, I’ve cheated myself out of so much progress and benefit by holding back in a posture that I felt unfit to move forward in. “I feel like I could go further today,” my body might tell me, and then my brain kicks in, “But you suck at this posture. So stay where you are.”
I really started to experience freedom from this fear of being “too good” when I started hooping. There were plenty of times, especially in the beginning, when I would hold back for one reason or another. Typically, because I didn’t want to appear to be better than the friends I’d been learning with. I would cheer their moments and discount mine.
If you catch yourself doing this, especially with something you are passionate about, take steps to break yourself of it. Start in private. Carve out some time and some space where you are completely alone, and go for it. Push your limits, push your comfort zone, try something that you don’t feel like you “should” be able to do because you’re not at “that level” yet. Forget that levels exist. No one is watching, no one is judging, be good. Be amazing. Get comfortable with the feeling.
The next step is tougher, but important: When you’re ready (and maybe even if you’re not), be good in front of someone else. You can start small here, too. I did it by going out to the park to practice my hooping. Other people could see me, but they weren’t my main focus. It usually took about fifteen minutes of warm-up to get to that place where I felt confident enough to be good. But eventually, people started approaching me and telling me they liked watching me. Don’t let this scare you, and don’t humble yourself. If someone approaches you while you are openly being good, say “thank you” and smile. They may ask you questions. Don’t be afraid to share. But don’t ever say, “I’m not that good” or “It’s really nothing”. You’ve been working hard. Let it show.
From here, you can take your goodness anywhere. If you want to, you can share it with your friends and family, you can branch out and find communities of people who support the goodness of their members, or you can just stick to the park. But take steps to strip away that fear. You’ll be surprised how much else unlocks for you when you let yourself be good, and ultimately, that’s what we’re after. A small jumping off point, an opening to let the good things in your life that you are worthy of rush in. Embrace it, enjoy it, and do not be afraid.