What is it to ‘play small’?
This powerful quote from Marianne Williamson describes it very clearly; “Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you”.
Many of my clients, whether they are coming as an individual or working inside an organisation, talk about a desire to be more forthright, honest and open in their communication and relationships. They describe how they would be so much happier and purposeful, that they would live life with a greater appreciation and freedom, if they were able to do that.
Often as they describe what the future would be like they then put a powerful and subtle limiter, a word, into their expressed enthusiasm which redirects them from what’s possible and has them finding and focusing on reasons why they can’t do what they wish they could.
It’s a really small word yet such an obstruction, not only to them, the client, also to others and their ideas, feelings and aspirations. That word is ‘but’ and it is a focal point for me when I hear it being used because it brings us to, and holds us in, the safety of playing small. It is such a part of our language we don’t even hear ourselves using it nor appreciate how it has such an impact.
A mother to her child “You did that really well Darling, but….”, a Manager to a team member “I think your work is improving but…”, you to yourself “I’d really like to try that but…”. We cut ourselves down regularly as we make judgment about ourselves and others based on a past perception, limiting experience or others’ views of us or ours of them.
If we really want to grow, move from playing small, we need to move beyond our manufactured fear, our self-judgment, our blame and the pain we keep revisiting to justify why it’s safer not to step out of our comfort zone, Instead, we need to step into accepting our ‘self’ as OK in its imperfection, neither good nor bad, right or wrong and engage with our ‘self’ as a learning-being, committed to experience a life that make us feel truly alive, free, grateful and powerful within our own truth.
If you’re in any doubt that you are not able to change your life, please have a good long look at the amazing athletes competing in the Commonwealth Games and in particular those that are ‘dis’abled.