You may be familiar with this quote from Marianne Williamson:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure… Your playing small does not serve the world…”

I speak with many women who don’t trust themselves when it comes to making a decision regardless of the subject.  Since I used to be there myself, I fully understand where they’re coming from.  It can be a scary thing to put yourself out there and make a choice that might be unacceptable to someone else.  What many of these women don’t think about is that their idea may just have some merit.  And if it’s not the right one for the project at hand, it could be a learning experience for them.

When you live a life of being conditioned to do what you’re told because you have little value, how do you go about taking a stand and trusting yourself?  I won’t go into the whole women vs men thing.  There are plenty of women who trust themselves and their own decisions.  We see it all the time.

But we also are sometimes surprised when public figures reveal that although they’re portrayed as powerful women they are dealing with intimidation and sexual innuendos behind the scenes.  These things happen and regardless of their public persona, these women play small in order to keep the peace and keep their jobs.  Happily, we’re seeing the beginnings of change in that area.

There are plenty more women who are not public personalities who are in powerful positions in the corporate world.  They rose to the top because of their hard work.  Those who made it may feel victory when they reach their goal but at what cost?  Some women find that once they’ve reached what they used to see as the pinnacle, they feel like something’s missing.

Their lives belong to the job and they either don’t have families or their families miss having quality time with them.  One would question whether these women are playing small.  Surely they took risks and moved ahead.  But are they willing to make the choice to find a more fulfilling balance in their lives?

In today’s chaotic world, many women are leaving the corporations to become entrepreneurs.  How many will do what it takes to be able to make a living as a business owner?  How many will make the choices necessary to feel successful?

Following is the title of an article written in 2014 by Dr. Morgan Giddings.  According to her website, Dr. Giddings “is a scientist, entrepreneur, creator, and explorer. For years she worked at the nexus of Computer Science and the Human Genome Project.”

“1.2 Million Women-owned Businesses Likely To Fail This Year From Guilt and Overwhelm”

Clearly Dr. Giddings is a very accomplished woman.  Here’s a quote from her:

 “I have sabotaged several of my previous business attempts through an inability to feel deserving of success,” – Dr. Morgan Giddings

This is not an experience assigned only to less accomplished women.  We are still living in a world where the implication is that women are undervalued.  The message is delivered in a more subliminal manner these days but it’s there.

However, a new phenomenon is happening.  Women are no longer accepting that thinking as true.  More and more we see women who are not afraid to say what they think.  They stand their ground and they take the heat because they trust who they are.  If you’re still playing small but are no longer content with that role, you may be wondering what you can do to take the plunge.


Take a look at why you play small.  Some typical reasons are:  to hide from potential pain, either physical or emotional; fear of responsibility for the outcome; a feeling that you don’t measure up; fear of making a mistake and looking foolish.  There are many other reasons and you may have several of your own.

Do some brainstorming.  How does playing small benefit you?  Make a list and keep it going until there isn’t anything left.  Once you’ve completed your list, look it over and see what kind of pattern develops.  In all likelihood you’ll see several fear based reasons.  That’s OK.  Fear can be a protector.  For some, it’s been there all our lives and has kept us from being embarrassed or hurt in some way.

That you’re no longer content to play small means you’re out growing the need for the protection that fear has been providing.  That’s a good thing.


While playing small can have its benefits, there are many drawbacks as well.  For instance, when you step out of your comfort zone and take risks, you find some qualities you may not know you have.    Resilience comes to mind.  When you’re able to put yourself out there and deal with making mistakes, you develop a strength that keeps you going.  Without that risk taking, you may never have found your strength.

You get to know yourself better and realize you have some worthwhile ideas.  They may not all work but there are some that will be truly awesome.  Those that don’t work can become a learning experience that will strengthen your knowledge base.

By putting yourself out there, other people begin to see you and wonder where you’ve been hiding.  By being yourself, you can inspire other women who haven’t gotten there yet.

When you play small, you miss out on these experiences.


Take one risk this week.  Step out of your comfort zone and dare to be seen.

Some suggestions:

Speak up in a meeting where you might have typically been quiet.

Decline to do a favor for someone when it would mean not honoring yourself.

Say yes to something that scares you.

Give a presentation to a group either at work or in the community.

Develop and follow a self-care program.


You have dreams.  Stop playing small and start living your dreams.  There is a world of possibilities out there waiting for you.  When you start to trust yourself and let the world see who you are, you have no idea what you might find.  Learning to use a positive frame of mind and playing BIG will show you a side of yourself that you haven’t seen yet.

Inside you are some hidden gems that you’ve been keeping from the world.  By playing small you are depriving not only yourself but the rest of us as well.

“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. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. 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. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”  Marianne Williamson




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