Daring to play BIG

stage lights

“You don’t need permission to shine. That’s the biggest mistake we make in life; we think we need someone’s approval to be magnificent or to just own what is true to us. But we are all not only capable of radiating light and love, it is our moral responsibility.” ~Baron Baptiste

I remember being taught as a child that I had a responsibility to use the talents that I was born with to their fullest. I was taught that the more that a person is given—in terms of talents, gifts, or opportunities—the more that person was expected to accomplish with what s/he’d been given. I remember feeling the weight of that responsibility every time I became aware of some gift or opportunity that was available to me through birth or circumstance.

However, I also learned very quickly that the more I tried to live up to my potential, the more likely the people around me would attempt to tear me back down to size. I learned young that success and accomplishment set me up for competition, ostracism, and nastiness. Even worse, I realized that being all that I could be meant hurting those that I loved if it ever made them feel like I outshone them in any way. It was clear to me that choosing to shine could cost me dearly, so I didn’t dare do so without making sure I had permission first.

This left me caught on the horns of a dilemma. On the one hand, I had a responsibility to use what I was given; on the other hand, doing so would be more costly than I could bear. So I’ve spent most of life trying to find a way to live in the middle. I’ve tried to shine just enough to feel like I wasn’t totally shirking my responsibility while also putting enormous amounts of effort into hiding the full brightness my light from everyone around me to reduce the cost.

The result of that approach has been that I have still lost many relationships with those who still found me too threatening or intimidating, AND I’ve managed to avoid ever becoming truly successful at anything I’ve tried to do. In other words, I’ve managed to find a way to wind up with the worst of both worlds!

“Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do.” ~ Marianne Williamson

As I’ve begun working toward self-employment, I’ve realized that my approach to life needs to change. I can’t continue to avoid success in the attempt to make people around me like me, accept me, or be nice to me. I need to succeed because I need to eat and keep a roof over my head. And not only that, I’m ready to live a much fuller life than I’ve dared to dream of so far! I’m ready to stop playing small. I’m ready to stop shrinking.

But it’s not easy shifting an old pattern of hiding my light into a new pattern of shining. How I am going about making this shift?

  1. First, I’m having to learn to dream again. I don’t mean the carefully edited dreams that have already been cut down to size to make sure no one feels threatened by them. I’m talking about everything-is-possible, the-sky-is-the-limit, over-the-top dreaming that comes straight from the heart. This means shutting off my practical mind for a little while (it’ll have its chance later) and imagining the biggest possible future. I’ll know when I’ve found my BIG dream because it will be the one that makes my heart sing. Of course, it’s likely to be the one that is scariest as well, so fear is not a reason not to move forward.
  2. After I’ve identified the BIG dream, then (and only then) I can let my practical mind in on the act to figure out how I will get there from here. This becomes the time for planning and putting the steps in place to make things happen.
  3. I’m working on finding people in my life with whom I can safely share my dream—people who will encourage me, support me, and hold me accountable to keep moving toward the dream when things get hard. These need to be people who are so busy shining in their own lives that they don’t have time to be threatened by anything I might do in mine. And I’m learning to keep my dreams, small successes, and accomplishments to myself unless I am confident that the person I am sharing with is one of these safe people. In the meantime, I’ve learned to celebrate myself by becoming my own greatest cheering section.
  4. I’m letting go of trying to take responsibility for other people’s reaction to me and what I do. Sure, it will still hurt if they reject me, but if they choose to let my successes make them feel bad about themselves, there’s nothing I can do about that. Even when it hurts, I’m learning to accept that their reaction is really all about them (and not about me) anyway.
  5. I’ve become extra aware of the stories and excuses I tell myself so I can catch myself as soon as I start heading toward playing small. I question my stories about what’s possible all the time to watch for my fear-based gremlins showing up to limit my thinking.
  6. I am staying focused on the BIG dream I have and how it will feel once I’ve achieved it. I imagine that future in detail every chance I get to stay connected with that desired future, including the supportive people that I dream of having around me when I get there. I feel the fear, I am aware of the resistance, but I want the dream enough to move through the fear and keeping going.

It’s still a work in progress, but I’m on my way. I’m slowly learning to dream again, and I feel more excited about life and happier than I have in years. We all have our own unique gremlins that keep us from daring to play BIG in our lives. Now that I’ve identified mine, I can choose to change.

Have you identified your gremlins? What keeps you from daring to play BIG in your life? What do you need to shift into a new way of being?

This post is part of a blog hop series sponsored by students and graduate Coaches of ICA. Please hop on over to their posts and see what else you can learn about ”Daring to play BIG.

Kickass Website Coach: http://kickasswebsitecoach.com/play-big-business-purpose/ ‎

Intuitive Coaching: http://reneevosdewael.com/2012/03/19/daring-to-play-big/

Sylvia Gautier – Proactive Life Coaching: http://myactioncoach.wordpress.com/2012/03/19/daring-to-play-big/

Brandy Morris-Chaudhry- Illuminated Perspective: http://www.illuminatingpotential.com/2012/03/19/daring-to-play-big/

Nuria Lencina: Coach for Mamas: http://coachformamas.com/reflections/how-big-are-your-dreams/

Pamela Rudisill: In Sight Life Coaching: http://insightlifecoaching.co/2012/03/19/daring-to-play-big/

Nihad Khalil: Aurora Beams Life Coaching: http://aurorabeamslifecoaching.blogspot.com/2012/03/daring-to-play-it-big.html

Being heard


“When I have been listened to, when I have been heard, I am able to re-perceive my world in a new way.” ~ Carl Rogers

When was the last time you experienced the gift of having someone listen to you? I’m not talking about the last time someone heard you speak. I mean the last time someone really put their entire focus into listening to you and really hearing and understanding what you were saying. Without giving advice. Without offering criticism. Without even offering to “fix” it for you. When was the last time someone truly just listened to you?

How did it feel? Did it help you re-perceive your world afresh?

I know that, for me, being truly heard is one of the most powerful things I experience. There is something about the experience of having another person holding space and bearing witness to whatever it is that I am sharing that allows me to process my thoughts and feelings in a much deeper way than when I try to do it in my own head. Most people I talk to say the same thing.

And yet, how seldom do we take the time and effort to really listen to one another. It’s so easy to get distracted by all that we have going on in our lives, to get too busy to take the time and effort to lavish that kind of focus on another person, or to get so caught up in our own dramas and needs and that we can’t set those aside long enough to be present for someone else.

After all, as simple as hearing is—we do it all day long whether we want to or not—listening takes real effort. To let go of our own agendas long enough to be completely engaged and curious about another person is something that takes practice. It takes energy, intense focus, and a great deal of curiosity about how other people work.

Listening is one of the things that a coach brings to the coaching relationship. Because the agenda for the coaching sessions always belongs the client, the coach can listen in a way that those closer to us seldom can because the coach is not worrying about how your decisions and choices will effect her own life. The coach trusts that you already have all of your own answers, so there is no need for her to try to tell you what to do. She just listens and asks questions to draw you deeper into the space where you can re-perceive your own life in a way that makes your answers clear.

If you’re feeling stuck and can’t seem to unearth the answers you have buried deep inside, consider finding someone with a gift for listening to hold space and listen to you. This may be a friend, a relative, a partner, or even a coach. Whoever you choose, make sure that person is able to set aside their agenda long enough to really focus on holding space and listening to you with nonjudgmental curiosity. You just might find the space to re-perceive your world in a way that makes it possible to see the way forward.

And next time you are spending time with someone you know who is stuck, consider practicing the skill of listening to them with agenda-free curiosity. There’s nothing like holding that sacred space while someone else find their way. Give it a try!

The power of now

I start all of my yoga classes with a brief meditation on the breath. The reason I do that is to help my students become aware of the present moment—the eternal now. Our bodies are always present in the current moment and in our current location. Our minds, however, spend most of the time in the past or in the future or somewhere else other than here and now. The practice of focusing the mind on the breath brings the mind back to be present in current moment and the current space with our bodies. For this reason, yoga refers the breath the link between the mind and the body.

It sounds so easy, doesn’t it? Just focus on the breath, and it will bring you back to the present moment, the here and now. And it really is that simple. It’s also that difficult. Anyone who has tried meditation knows just how challenging this practice really is. And yet, everything we will ever do or accomplish in our lives must be done with our bodies. All of our actions, all of our communication, all of our work in this world happens via our bodies, which are always present in the here and now. It makes sense, therefore, to spend more time with our minds joining our bodies in the now to maximize our accomplishments.

This doesn’t mean that there is no value in thinking on the past or the future, however. The past can be a rich source of learning as we uncover lessons we have learned, patterns we keep recreating in our lives, or practices that we can make use of now. Thoughts of the future and the goals we hope to achieve can be very important in keeping us on track to continue growing and learning and becoming the people we wish to be. The problem comes when we want to live in some place and time other than the here and now.

My personal measure for determining whether I am consulting the past or the future for useful information or whether I am trying to live in the past or the future is to check my emotional barometer. When I am checking the past for lessons that might be useful to me today or envisioning future possibilities to help me make decisions or set goals, my emotions are those of curiosity and detachment. I am in a place of learning and inquiry. When I am living in the past by obsessing over things that have happened to me or dwelling in the future by worrying over things that I cannot do anything about in this moment, my emotions tend to be anxious, sad, angry, or discouraged. Most importantly, though, I am not learning. I am not detached. I am not curious.

When I find myself in those  spaces (and I often do), I find it helpful to start with a deep breath to bring me back to my body in this moment in this place. Then I can acknowledge the emotions that have come up and inquire about what I can learn from my sojourn in that other place and time that can inform my actions in this moment. By being curious about what it can do for me now, I don’t invalidate my feelings or my concerns, but it reminds me that I can only act in the here and now where my body is.

Here and now is all I have. It’s all you have too. What strategies do you use to bring yourself back to the here and now when your mind has gone off to another place and time?

This post is part of a blog hop series sponsored by students and graduate Coaches of ICA. Please hop on over to their posts and see what else you can learn about ”The Power of Now.

Esme Gosling – Money Coach  http://bit.ly/xu0bLi

Sandra Seibert – Joyful Growth Coach  http://joyfulgrowthcoach.com/2012/02/the-power-of-now-a-moment-of-stillness/

 Renee Vos de Wael – Intuitive Coach   http://reneevosdewael.com/2012/02/20/is-the-power-now/

 Namrata Arora – Life and Career Coach for women in transitions  http://aboutcoaching.wordpress.com/2012/02/18/the-power-of-now/

Tracy Coan – Bodacious Possibilities  http://bodaciouspossibilities.com/2012/02/choose-you-choose-now/

Jayde Gilmore – Wings LifeCoaching  http://wingslifecoaching.tumblr.com/

Brandy Morris-Chaudhry – Illuminated Perspective  http://www.illuminatingpotential.com/

Nuria Lencina – Coachinu  http://coachinublog.com/2012/02/20/the-power-of-now/

Pamela Rudisill – In Sight Life Coaching  http://insightlifecoaching.co/2012/02/20/the-power-of-now/

Louise Gray – Communication Coach, Learner Focused Coaching  http://learnerfocusedcoaching.com/2012/02/20/what-was-i-saying/

Jenn Brockman – Kick Ass Website Coach  http://kickasswebsitecoach.com/the-power-of-now

Rebecca Macfarlane – Turning Stones Coaching (Business Start Up and Career Coach)  http://wp.me/p1xmJl-dZ