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Learn how you can stop playing it small – and become limitless

I know you. You play it small. You limit yourself in some way.

You limit how high you climb at work. You limit your personality. You limit the kind of work you do. You limit your love life. You limit your influence. You limit your visibility.

You don’t do it consciously – it’s the result of something else. Of not wanting to be different. You limit yourself because you don’t want to be different.

In other words, you play it small because you want to fit in.

This behaviour often started as a child, because being different wasn’t encouraged or even welcome. If being yourself – i.e. different – wasn’t welcome, how did you feel? You felt afraid and ashamed of who you were. So what did you do? You decided to be the person you needed to be to fit in. And this meant you stopped being yourself.

When you stopped being yourself, you felt good… at first. What a relief it was to fit in! You quickly learned who you needed to be in all sorts of different situations – as if you were an actor in a play. Which is exactly what you were. Except that you were never off-stage. You could never be yourself. You became absorbed with playing your roles – often The Perfectionist and The Good Person – and became so adept at them that you forgot your main role. Being you.

You were so busy playing roles for other people that you lost yourself completely.

You cannot be self-confident or have self-worth when you’re not being yourself. Which is why you play it small. You don’t have the courage of your convictions – they’re probably not YOUR convictions, anyway. So you stay under the radar and play it small.

I know you. Because that was me, too.

It’s scary when you stop playing it small. You feel exposed, naked even, and ungrounded. The foundations on which you built your life – being afraid and ashamed of who you were – have crumbled, and it takes a little while to rebuild your new ones. Your new foundations are very different. They’re based on your full ownership of and pride in who you truly are. Not that ego-based pride of being better than others. That real pride of being happy and satisfied with who YOU are. Your new foundations make you glow from the inside out, they make you feel safe, secure, limitless. And enough.

When you stop playing it small, you are enough.

Here’s how I stopped playing it small.

  • Acknowledge that you have a void inside. Notice and accept your void. If you don’t, you’ll continue to feed it until it gets so huge you can’t ignore it any longer. It’s much harder to fill a huge void than a regular one (I know, I had to).
  • Decide to stop pretending to be someone else. Take a stand to be yourself. It won’t happen all at once, but you’ll start to notice when you’re really not being yourself – this will help you catch it sooner the next time.
  • Start getting back in touch with your feelings. The only way to be someone else successfully is to squelch your own feelings. A good way to reacquaint yourself with them is to write a feelings journal every day. Don’t censor or edit, just let out whatever wants to come out.
  • Understand who you really are. Dig deep into what’s important to you (things like values, causes), what you love doing (go back to before you were 8, when you were still you) and what you’re truly good at (your natural skills and abilities).
  • Stop beating yourself up. Learn to manage your inner critics – those voices in your head that tell you you’re not enough.
  • Find your voice. Describe yourself – the REAL you – in a few sentences. Who are you? What do you do?
  • Learn how to manage whatever life throws at you (even rejection). Turn the key life truths (acceptance, letting go, forgiveness, gratitude, compassion) into daily habits.
  • Learn how to save yourself (because no one else is going to). Understand what it takes to put your own health and well-being first, and do it. You cannot help others if you don’t help yourself first.
  • Create your own roadmap for your life. If you’re not following your own roadmap, you’re following someone else’s. Make sure it takes the WHOLE you into account – who you are, your dreams, your desires.
  • Take action. Dreams are great, but they remain just dreams until you take action. How you spend every minute of your time should reflect what’s on your personal roadmap.

What’s the opposite of playing it small? Living large.

I’m living large. Will you join me?

 

Sarah Blick is a very tall, dog-loving, morning person. She loves to be in the great outdoors, to write, to eat well, to be active and healthy, to make her own household and personal care products, and to listen to indie music. She’s an ENFP (Myers-Briggs) and a Rockstar (Fascination Advantage).

 

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Why being yourself and having boundaries go together

For most of my life, I’ve had trouble with personal boundaries. Both with stepping over other people’s boundaries, and with allowing others to step over mine.

In my particular family dynamics, there was no such thing as personal boundaries. Walls, yes, but not boundaries. I had to do what I was told and wasn’t allowed to question anything people in positions of authority said or did. This led to my boundaries being crashed endlessly.

Back then, I didn’t have the awareness to know what was going on, just that it didn’t feel good. That having no voice and being made to go along with things I didn’t agree with sucked.

Boundaries are lines that define you. What you’re willing to do, and not do. What belongs to you, and what belongs to others.

Part of being yourself fully is deciding where your boundaries are. That’s why it feels so bad when someone else decides this for you.

Boundaries are crucial in all your interactions – with other people, with animals, with organisations. They’re a matter of respect. They’re being violated every time someone invades your privacy, or tells you what to do or how to behave. If someone’s presence or input is uninvited, it’s disrespectful.

Boundary setting comes from deep within. It’s based on your beliefs about what’s right for you in your life. You get to define how you behave, how you respond to someone else’s behaviour, what’s your to do. You also get to maintain your boundaries. And that means learning to say NO.

Whenever I’m feeling frustrated or angry, it’s because I’ve not maintained my boundaries. I’ve not said NO when I should have. This tends to happen when I rush into something, or when I feel sorry for someone. I’m suffering the consequences of my failure to say NO right now. I’m looking after someone’s dog, an incredibly needy, inactive dog, whose presence in my home prevents me from living my life. I love dogs, but don’t have the bandwidth right now to deal with a dog whose modus operandi is so different from mine.

You can learn to say NO in response to someone asking you to do something that’s not right for you. And you can learn to say NO in anticipation of someone offering you unsolicited advice. e.g. “I’d love to share something with you and just want you to listen – I’m NOT looking for any input about it.”

If you don’t maintain your boundaries, you cannot fully be yourself. Your ‘you-ness’ is compromised by every failure to say NO. If being yourself is important to you, then boundary setting and maintaining must also be important to you.

It takes courage to say NO. It also takes strong guiding principles. The reward is your freedom and a more joyful life.

 

Sarah Blick is a very tall, dog-loving, morning person. She loves to be in the great outdoors, to write, to eat well, to be active and healthy, to make her own household and personal care products, and to listen to indie music. She’s an ENFP (Myers-Briggs) and a Rockstar (Fascination Advantage).

 

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How to gain your freedom

“Perfection is attained not when there’s nothing left to add, but when there’s nothing left to remove.” Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

One of my favourite quotes from one of my favourite authors. It celebrates taking away – simplifying, if you will.

I love it because it’s true on many levels. It’s true about creative projects, like writing, music and painting. It’s true about our homes. It’s true about our wardrobes. It’s true about our conversations. It’s true about our relationships.

It’s true because simplifying everything is good for us. It frees us to focus on what matters in life.

It’s true because clutter holds us back, like a dead weight.

Simplifying your life has many layers to it. There are the literal layers – getting rid of visible belongings that no longer serve you, aka decluttering. And then there are the figurative layers – getting rid of invisible belongings, like ways of thinking that no longer serve you, like ways of behaving that no longer serve you, like ways of being that no longer serve you.

Most people start with decluttering. Something or someone triggers the thought that “I have too much stuff” and, along with it, the notion that too much stuff isn’t a good thing. As in too much stuff makes it difficult to move home easily. As in too much stuff makes it hard to find anything. When you declutter, you usually feel a huge sense of relief  – in a ‘now I can breathe’ kind if way. You’ve lightened your load and feel almost liberated as a result.

And, for some, this new-found sense of freedom starts to have dramatic side-effects, shifting something more fundamental in them. As they see and appreciate the space created by the decluttering of their visible belongings, they imagine how other parts of their lives might benefit from some decluttering of the invisibles.

This is harder to imagine than visible decluttering, but even more powerful in its ability to free you. For example:

  • How do you declutter conversations? By listening more, and talking less. By not having an agenda before the conversation begins, and by being open to it going wherever it does and to responding authentically in the moment to whatever arises. You know how good it feels when someone truly listens to you.
  • How do you declutter relationships? By allowing people to be themselves, without judgement. By being respectful of who they are, and not trying to control or change them. You know how good being treated with respect feels.

Setting yourself free is the ultimate form of self-fulfilment, because it’s all about giving yourself permission to be you. The real you.

When you remove, one by one, the layers of clutter created by living in our socieities today, you take your life back to its roots, back to the way you were as a young child. And that’s the real you.

A happy, fun-loving being who sees the world with wonder.

That’s what freedom feels like.

 

Sarah Blick is a very tall, dog-loving, morning person. She loves to be in the great outdoors, to write, to eat well, to be active and healthy, to make her own household and personal care products, and to listen to indie music. She’s an ENFP (Myers-Briggs) and a Rockstar (Fascination Advantage).