How to Stop Playing Small

Many of us “play small” because we are afraid. Playing small keeps us in our safe little bubble, where change happens slowly and steadily, and we may or may not get to where we’re trying to go. Here are three steps on how to stop playing small and face your fears. (Note: I wrote this while I was being challenged with great fear last week. After I wrote them down, I followed my own advice. And it actually worked.)

Step 1: Out yourself.

In this step, you lay it all on the table. How you’re feeling, and why you’re feeling that way. Vent, get it all out. Don’t be ashamed, just do it. If you can out yourself to someone else, or even a community, even better.

An example: “I’m outing myself. …I’m freaking scared. I’m freaking overwhelmed. I know what I should be doing logically and I can’t freaking execute. And I know that after I just let this happen, I’ll feel a gazillion times better, but it’s the WORST feeling being in this. I withdraw, I am paralyzed in trying to take the step to asking for help, and I melt down. I’m ashamed that I don’t have it together. I know the answers but I can’t apply them to me….”

Step 2: Give yourself permission.

Give yourself the opportunity to express what you’re feeling, in the way that works best for you. Do you need to cry? Scream? Go for a run? Hit a punching bag? (Please don’t hit others!) Give yourself the permission to get whatever is holding you back out of your system. Who cares what you look like while you’re doing it? Know that when you’re done, you’re one step away from turning the corner. 

Step 3: Ask for help.

Get support. Find someone and tell them what you need, and get it. There will ALWAYS be someone who can be there for you in your time of need.

An example: “I think what I need is a hug, and someone to remind me why I’m even here.” (A few minutes later, a hug was received, and some conversation ensued…and all was better in the world again.)

The Cheerful Mind