Get your sparkle on!
In 2002, I remember speaking to a group of women in Manila at a Wowee! Workshop on women’s wisdom. When I told them that there is room in this world for everyone to shine because inside all women are fabulous—I got a lot of unbelieving looks. A lot of women around the world, even in the United States, the birthplace of the term liberated woman, don’t believe that they’ve got fabulous-ness or the ability to shine within their own selves in the first place.
I know that most of those Filipino women, like me, were raised up to be quiet and demure—keep your legs closed and your thoughts to yourself….etc, etc. Little do most of us mahinhin/lady-like Filipinas realize that some of these tenets of femininity have suppressed our full expression of who we are and have prevented us from pursuing our dreams. It’s how we’re raised and how our environments influence us that cause us to limit ourselves, and to want to limit others too, even bring them down.
We all need to discover for ourselves how we can live life to the fullest and to also discover how we can want others to live to their fullest potential too. What keeps people from “shining”? What causes people to want others to not shine or to bring down others with their crab mentality?
I think you might be able to understand that people can shine by reviewing some terms in English whereby people talk about how people might shine…
The word “star” is a term used for celebrities who do well on the silver screen.
People like to describe smiles with “She has such a radiant smile.”
And people might talk about one’s characteristics with “he has such a sunny disposition.”
When one does well in their work they might get “glowing reviews.”
We like to give people we love (and who seem especially lovable) affectionate nicknames like “Sunshine,” “bituin.”
We might refer to something appealing in a person’s eye with “they have a twinkle in their eye” or “there was a sparkle in their eye.” Or to say about something eye-catching or someone charismatic that they are “dazzling.”
In the Philippine national anthem we use terms like “silanganan” (brightness) and “na nagniningning” (sparkle).
“Shooting star” is a term used for someone who is in the limelight or public stage for a brief period of time or for a charismatic public figure who has lived a short lifespan but still has inspired large numbers of people.
And we also have ways of saying a woman glows when she is not just externally beautiful but when she seems to radiate with internal beauty. We also don’t use the term “glow” for women as we seem to also use it for any person when they seem to radiate with happiness.
What’s crab mentality?
When I came to the States, I finally heard the term “crab mentality.” Some Filipinos think crab mentality is a Filipino trait, but rather, it is a human trait that might happen be strong among a large number of Filipinos within various social settings regardless of geographic location.
The Wikipedia definition of crab mentality, as of this post is:
Crab mentality, sometimes referred to as crabs in the bucket, describes a way of thinking best described by the phrase “if I can’t have it, neither should you.” The metaphor refers to a pot of crabs. Individually, the crabs could easily escape from the pot, but instead, they grab at each other in a useless “king of the hill” competition (or sabotage) which prevents any from escaping and ensures their collective demise. The analogy in human behavior is that of a group that will attempt to “pull down” (negate or diminish the importance of) any member who achieves success beyond the others, out of jealousy, conspiracy or competitive feelings.
This term is broadly associated with short-sighted, non-constructive thinking rather than a unified, long-term, constructive mentality. It is also often used colloquially in reference to individuals or communities attempting to “escape” a so-called “underprivileged life”, but kept from doing so by others attempting to ride upon their coat-tails or those who simply resent their success.
I think we all can see that crab mentality really is a human trait of envying others and of taking that negative feeling to negative action by pulling down the subject of one’s envy by insulting them, demeaning them, attacking them, gossiping about them and maybe even spreading lies about them.Sometimes people just like being miserable so much so that they like to picture everyone else around them miserable too. They try to make others feel just as miserable as themselves by being downright miserable, saying miserable things and treating everyone else, well, miserably. That’s an extreme of course. It does exist though.Sometimes it’s subtle. There are people who like to make jokes and make fun of others, maybe even themselves. So why the put downs? Why is it necessary to say things that make people feel bad about themselves or to embarrass them? If you ever do that do you ever think why you do or do you ever consider what subtle ripple effect into lives of others your words have?In other forms, the spirit of crab mentality is like “keeping up with the Jones’,” an American (U.S.) term that means a competition between neighbors whereby they buy material goods to out do each other (cars, clothes, pools, furniture, etc.) in order to uplift the illusion of their status and worth in the neighborhood, society-at-large, or just in their own eyes.
I’d like to emphasize “illusion.” Because materialism and status as a source of one’s self worth does not bring real, long-lasting happiness, only very very brief happiness. In my own personal opinion, it’s all well and good to own nice things, and to be recognized for one’s accomplishments, but those things can be fleeting, and so I truly believe that the source of my happinesses are my loving relationships with my loved ones and friends, with my self, with my Kapwa(kindred souls, that is all humans and all Existence) and with God/Goddess/AllThatIs.
I think an extreme form of crab mentality is racism. There is not enough space and goodness in the world, in a racists’ opinion, for others that are not of his/her race.
Basically, crab mentality comes from Fear. The Fear that there is not enough of tangible/intangibles to go around for everyone to survive, much less, thrive on.
Ways I learned about Shine Mentality
The first way I learned about a “shine mentality” was through my relationships with my family and certain people who helped me feel good about myself. What was it about my family and about these certain people that made me feel good about myself? Well, I decided later on, when I was already a mother with three boys, that if there were people out there in the world who made me feel good about myself than I wanted to do the same for my kids, the people I love and do it consciously for other people, too.
The second way was by finding ways to help Filipinas shine online, through publishing sites for Filipinas(newfilipina.com and pinay.com) and in live events. This first started out as a fiery, indignant, laptop activist attempt to fight stereotypes online but soon became a work of love for my sister Filipinas, my Kapwa Filipino and my mother’s motherland, the Philippines. When I chaired the FAWN2005 conference, I wanted to feature these amazing women who I admired and who embodied strength, grace and beauty — Sr. Mary John Mananzan, Evelie, Leny, Letty, Urduja, Malou, Celia, Tesa, Vicky, and more —each and every strong Filipina woman who spoke and/or attended to share her story and gifts so others could learn, benefit, grow. It was a win-win or shine-shine situation that was created. So many fabulous women were able to be present and sparkle, glow or glimmer there (and some men came too, and we love them for it).
The third way I learned about Shine Mentality was by doing personal inner work and looking for Universal wisdom, and through that process I have learned that all people have a Light within them at their Source that needs to come out and shine on others and into the world.
Shine Mentality vs Crab Mentality
One of the things I learned about inner light was by learning the meaning of the sanskrit greeting “namaste” that is said with a bow to another person upon meeting or leaving them. One interpretation in English of “namaste” is “the Light within me greets the Light within You.” To be able to think in this way is so opposite of the keeping-up-with-the-Jones-way whereby people are thinking in their heads “the Mercedes Benz that I drive greets the BMW that you drive” or the “Coach bag and shoes I wear, greet the Gucci ones you wear.” The first where, light meets light, is pure and beautiful. Is the latter beautiful? NOT! Well, it could be sorta fun depending on where you’re coming from. But you have to admit that it is a bit small and insubstantial from the Soul’s standpoint. Can we exist between two worlds such as these? LOL. maybe.
Sometimes, and I have witnessed this personally and even been guilty of it during my high school days(as a nitwit), we think that family name, land, wealth, status and privilege gives us the right to look down on other people. So we talk down on them in front of their faces. Or behind their backs. And we get a twisted pleasure out of it. Period.
Sometimes, as Filipinos, our regionalistic pride, causes us to put down on, maybe sometimes insult others from another region of the Philippines.
I think the act of stereotyping too is a form of Crab Mentality because it is a lazy way to understand people and makes a limited group of people feel better about themselves by looking down on others. People from everywhere like to stereotype people of different traits, race, country, language, etc., only because it is the easy thing to do and because sometimes the more demeaning stereotypes help them feel superior, in an illusory way. Sometimes.
Here are some differentiations between Shine Mentality and Crab Mentality that I can think of coming from my own life. Beware, you may not like some of the things you read here, but be patient with me and take time to think about these things:
Indicators or Acts of Shine Mentality
- The ability to see the good in others.
- The willingness to sincerely compliment others often.
- The ability to state something in order to give others recognition.
The unwillingness to gossip or to say negative things about other people.
- The unwillingness to listen or to fabricate lies about another and to spread them around.
- The ability to detect when someone gives you a sincere, friendly smile and the ability to return that smile.
- The ability to sincerely enjoy affirming.
- The ability to sincerely enjoy affirming others and acknowledge others’ talents, gifts and accomplishments.
Indicators or Act of Crab Mentality
- The ability to see mostly or ONLY the negative in others to the point of not being able to interact with people and accomplish constructive works.
- The readiness to mostly criticize others and the unwillingness to compliment others. Combined with the ability to only calculatingly flatter others if it helps you “get ahead.”
- The inability to state something in order to give others recognition.
- The willingness to gossip or to say negative things about other people.
- The willingness to listen or to fabricate lies about another and to spread them around.
- The inability to detect when someone gives you a sincere, friendly smile and the inability to return that smile.
- The tendency to ignore others’ talents, gifts and accomplishments or to downplay them.
Think about these carefully and see how you feel about them. Do you want to protest and disagree? Before you do, I gently suggest that you think about these things before you respond in anger and indignation. If you agree then I’d like to invite you to add something by posting your own comments below.
Causes of Shine Mentality
- A big heart
- Trust that there is enough recognition and goodness for everybody
- Raised in a family that encourages your development and praises your merits
- Many experiences of goodness in your life (by goodness I mean pure good-hardheartedness from others)
- A sense or acute knowledge that everyone in this world has a divine purpose in the eyes of God
- A positive measure of a sense of security and self-worth
- Positive outlook towards life
- Negative outlook towards life
- Would you like to add something?
Causes of Crab Mentality
- A small heart
- Fear, Ego, Envy, Pain, Anger
- Fear that there is not enough recognition and goodness for everybody
- Raised in a family that did not at all or often encourage your development or praise your merits
- Rare experiences of goodness in your Life (by goodness I do not mean material wealth or success but rather good-hearted-ness, such as kindness, generosity, patience, forgiveness.)
- A lack of divine purpose
- A sense of insecurity and lack of sensing one’s own worthiness
- Negative outlook towards life
Would you like to add something?
When I list these things here, I know that I have committed thoughts or acts of crab mentality when I experienced something negative and wanted to hurt someone, lash out or bring someone down. I too am a continuing student of Shine Mentality.
How do we learn and practice Shine Mentality?
I think that you can learn Shine Mentality by cultivating Love and a bigger heart within yourself.
If you are hurting from something in your past or present, then you have to recognize that, forgive and begin the path of healing from within.
You have to practice, everyday, saying good things to yourself within your own mind and heart, so that you are encouraged to Live, Love, Laugh and Shine too. (For more info and details see affirmations, these downloadable ones, and power thought, wisdom and inner peace cards at amazon.com).
You also have to be able to believe in your own innate goodness and that you too were born on this Earth for a purpose and a reason and that everyone and everything else is created in this way too.
You have to believe in your soul, your spiritual worth. You have to recognize your own inner light that exists deep down inside of you.
You have to believe that everyone and everything is connected and related at the Source, through God (what I call Pakikipagkapwa).
You have to trust that God loves you and that you are connected to the Divine even if you don’t feel that way everyday, every moment. But if you practice it sometimes, it can become everyday, every moment.
Some things that also help: Prayer, meditation and contemplation. I practice yoga, like to garden, watch movies, read, make art and more. Having a hobby that helps you feel good about yourself definitely adds goodness to your life and helps you find it within yourself to be able to see the good in others and openly articulate what nice things you see in others.
Maybe you might want to try to cultivate a Shine Mentality in your thoughts, words and actions.
And because my fabulous, gorgeous friend Bec brought up this song that I love so much too, I want you to listen to Katie Perry’s music video, Firework:
Can you sing or say or even think or feel the Firework lyrics to/for someone else? If you can’t, then just start saying these kinds of words to your Self first. The more you can believe there’s a light in you that can shine into this world, the more you will believe and say it can be so for others.
Do you know that there’s still a chance for you
Cause there’s a spark in you
You just gotta ignite the light
And let it shine
Just own the night
Like the Fourth of July
Cause baby you’re a firework
Come on show ’em what you’re worth
Make ’em go “Oh, oh, oh!”
As you shoot across the sky-y-y
Baby you’re a firework
Come on let your colors burst
Mabuhay—LifeLightLove to you, all you do & all you love,
(originally published at bagongpinay.org)
Omehra is also known as Inday Perla, Perla Daly, BagongPinay and NewFilipina.
She has been publishing websites to empower Filipinos for 20 years. More about her art, blogs, events, publishing and organizations at BagongPinay.