Daring to play BIG

“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