Happy Sunday All,
7th February 1965. It was a Sunday.
I like to think that there were bluebirds singing and the sun was shining, you know à la Snow White, but I doubt that was the case.
In fact the historical forecast says it was: “Dull, rather cold and very dry” So, not the Fairytale entrance I would have hoped for, however I was bright, inquisitive and curious and importantly I was and have always been very interested in people.
You know you have those moments when you re-assess your life, well, recently in that moment I realised I had spent a significant part of my life ‘playing small.’ It didn’t feel good and I know that now the time is right for me to JUST STOP IT!
Criticism: The Spirit killer
I have always been full of curiosity and expectation; hungry for information and I tend to see life through hopeful and excited eyes, yet more often than not this was seen as a problem and I received much criticism for my exuberance and wish for knowledge.
Instead of being of being congratulated for being curious and thirsty to know more I got instead:
“yuh too farce!”
“yuh know too much”
“yuh always have and ansa fi evryting”
Criticism which made me second guess my own decisions and be unsure about what I should do and which decisions I should make that were in MY best interests.
The second thing that I think contributed to me subconsciously playing small was developing a fear of upsetting others. When we are made to believe that our successes are at the expense of others and that in doing so others may suffer, then we unconsciously pull in and stop ourselves from expanding too greatly or from shining too brightly.
When I was young my sisters and I were obliged to spend a lot of time at my aunt’s house. We were practically brought up with our cousins but it meant constant comparisons and our achievements being pitted against each other…
As a very academic youngster and a naturally curious person I was more often than not out front in that particular race and so when my cousins were chastised for not being able to keep up, I realise now that on a subconscious level I dimmed my light because shining too brightly meant others would suffer.
This has been a recurring theme in my life and no doubt for some of you too. The thing with playing small is that it’s quite an insidious and subconscious little saboteur. It’s also a bit of a chameleon and shape shifts, like a ninja when you least expect it to.
What do I mean by that?
What I mean is that we play small for a number of reasons, but how you play small can show up as something else entirely.
In what ways could you be playing small?
Playing small for me manifest as people pleasing. I learnt quickly as a child that I would receive positive affirmation and attention if I did as I was told, if I did the things my primary carers expected of me.
In addition to this I am an eldest child and so we are, more often than not trained to be responsible not just for ourselves, but the behaviours and emotions of those siblings that come after us. Now this is great up to a point, but it didn’t exactly endear me to my siblings nor some of my peers when you’re behaving like yet another ADULT in their lives.
It’s a heavy burden and a responsibility which leaves you feeling you’re stuck between the ‘rock’ of adult and carer expectations of your behaviour and the ‘hard place’ of just being a child, relating to your siblings and peers and doing what other children do because when you do allow yourself to be a child, you are chastised.
“You’re the sensible one!”
“I didn’t expect this from YOU!”
“I trusted you to…”
“You should know better…”
and so on…
Who am I really?
In order to avoid the guilt and disappointment we can often feel we are creating, the result of the expressed disappointment, we can spend a life-time giving out and being what everyone else needs us to be, when they needed us to be it and forget – no, never really knew that we are the first person we should give to.
It is only when I give to myself, that I am filled up enough to overflow and spill out with the energy abundance, love, affection, advice, support, confidence or whatever it is that others want and I choose to give out.
The other way that I ‘played small’ and I know there are others of you, who do this too, is that I constantly looked to others, seeking their advice and approval before making decisions for my own life and myself.
I failed to trust my own intuition and my own guidance.
Whether you look to the advice of someone you respect, the advice of friends, teachers or Gurus OR whether you look to horoscopes, Runes and Tarot, what you’re doing is relinquishing your power to another and playing small.
Now don’t get me wrong, the advice of others can be invaluable…
However, it’s when you allow that advice or opinion to usurp a burning desire within you, when you allow that advice to quench the fire of feeling uplifted and expanded, when you overthrow opportunities that makes you feel excited & joyous because someone cautioned you against it, that’s when you know you’re playing small.
Their advice becomes the excuse you use to justify not stepping up to the expanded and amazing self you know you could be.
How do you know it?
Because you felt excited by the opportunity.
Remember most people, even with the best of intentions, operate from within their own experience, thoughts and feelings. So, even if their advice comes with love and they have the best intentions for you, they can only advise you from within the confines and limits of their own life’s lessons.
THESE ARE NOT YOUR LESSONS!
So, the next time you’re faced with a decision or opportunity, check in with yourself consider if the choice you’re about to make makes you feel expanded or constricted, reactive and motivated by fear or expanded and joyous.