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Thursday, June 3, 2010

Are You Playing Small?

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us."
~Marianne Williamson

I think it’s fair to assume that most people on the spiritual path (and several people not on the path) have heard or read the above quote by Marianne Williamson. I love it so much that it appears in part at the top of the homepage on my website, because I want everyone who visits my site to see it!

However, it’s scary for some of us to shine our lights as brightly as we are capable, and I’d even venture to say that the majority of people out there struggle with this issue at some point in their lives. In fact, I’ll even go so far as to say that a lot of the unhappiness and dissatisfaction in the world today comes from an unwillingness or inability to shine one’s light and truly express the greatness that we each are. We hold ourselves back from being all that we can be, and yet inside we are growing more and more unhappy because we are not expressing our potential and pursuing our passions.

If this resonates with you at all, I’d like to suggest trying the exercise below.

It might just be the thing you need to feel more comfortable shining your bright light and expressing your true gifts and talents to the world!

Here's the exercise:

Think of a particular area in life where you seem to struggle to get ahead. It’s probably an area where you know you have a lot of potential and have huge dreams, but even after months or years of effort things just don’t seem to be going the way you want them to.

Now, ask yourself this question: Who do you worry will feel upset or uncomfortable if you grow too "big for your britches?"

(This question comes from this blog post by Kendall SummerHawk.)

Next, jot down the first answer that comes to mind, even if it doesn’t make any sense. It might be a parent, spouse, sibling, friend, co-worker, etc. Write down all the people that come to mind when you ask yourself this question. At first you might not see the connection, or you may totally see the connection. Either way, the reason why you’ve been holding yourself back should begin to make sense!

If you’re struggling in a particular area where you’ve been trying to get ahead, you may be subconsciously holding yourself back because you fear that someone (often in your past) will be resentful of you or react negatively if you succeed or show your true brilliance to the world. Even if it doesn’t consciously make sense to you, or even if the person is not consciously trying to hold you back, at some point in time, on some level, it's possible you decided that in order to avoid resentment or negative feelings on their part, you would play small.

Once you've identified someone in response to the question above, see your answer begins to shine some light on the issue. This may be enough to shift the issue right then and there. Can you see how you've been holding yourself back to avoid discomfort or resentment on the part of someone else? Or maybe you simply don't want to outshine a parent or sibling, who you think might be left behind if you pursue your dreams and achieve success. Or maybe you're scared that a spouse or romantic partner may not adjust well to your new, brighter identity.

In fact, there are a variety of reasons why you may not want to grow too "big for your britches" because you're scared of the reaction of someone else, and the answer will vary with each person who tries this exercise. The key is to do the exercise and see what comes up for you. Sometimes just the awareness is enough to create resolution, but if not you may have to dig a little deeper. Regardless, the answer lies within you, and once you find it you are well on your way to shining your light in the world and creating the life of your dreams!

For more tips and techniques like the one above, be sure to check out my ebook, Secrets to Creating Your Ideal Life. It has been called "one of the most useful self-help books I have read" and "an amazing resource for anyone who wants to make big, positive changes in their life." More details here!


  1. Hello Mary, this is a wonderful post. I love the exercise you have outlined and I have done it in the past to identify many blockages in my life, the most recent being weight loss. I had to discover who I was 'saving' or 'trying not to outshine' by reaching my perfect weight and when I did this all became clear and I was able to release it and lose the weight that I wanted to lose. Thanks so much for this great reminder.

  2. This is one incredible post. Thank you so much for sharing! I really loved the exercises and I really find them very helpful on unleashing hidden potentials and expressing the greatness we each have.

    Discovering your potentials to make big, positive changes in your life is a great achievement for anyone. If being afraid of what others may think or say about you will stop you from growing too "big for your britches" then nothing will happen to you. You must bear in mind that you are not doing this for someone else but for yourself. If this what makes you happy, then go for it!

    Thanks for this great reminder. Keep up the good work! :)

  3. Gratitude for the good blog post Are You Playing Small? . It was very helpful for me. Keep sharing such thoughts in the future as well. gratitude for sharing the such information with us,

  4. I also found your posts very interesting. In fact after reading, I had to go show it to my friend and he enjoyed it as well!.

  5. Thank you very much for your article really benefited them so much ..


  6. This is a good post, explains a lot and is a very fun and easy read.

    Gradi @ http://www.selfhelpjunky.com

  7. Please posts many posts daily i am benefited to all posts.