3 Uncomfortable Truth about Playing Small
We’ve all done it. We’ve all dimmed our light and given our power away. It leaves the bitter taste of self-betrayal in our hearts. And it creates a false foundation for connections with others. The truth is that when we’re playing small, we give the green light to others to do the same. We teach our children and beloved ones that it’s okay to suppress who they are to fit in. We show others that it’s not safe to believe in ourselves, and it’s selfish to explore our greatness. But what kind of legacy does this create? I do believe that you, reading these words, are one of the game-changers. The change begins with each of us. And so, let’s break down why do we play it small in interactions with others.
1. Desire to Be Loved and Accepted
One of the biggest reasons for playing small is a desire to be loved, accepted, and understood. We emphatically feel what others want from us, and we give it to them, hoping it will bring us something. All this is masked as innocent. But let’s take a closer look at what happens here.
When we perceive the source of something outside ourselves, we’re not only playing small, but we also give our power. Since we were children, we learned to read the emotional landscape of others. This specifically applies to empaths who come from unstable families. The subconscious mind holds a belief that if you just figured out what others need or expect from you, you’ll be safe and loved. When we’re too big, too shiny, the mind sends us a signal that it’s too much. We’ve crossed an imaginary border, and it can remove the love or acceptance of others, so now we have to retreat into our shells.
But here is the truth, you can’t make others like you by being out of integrity with yourself. Others aren’t attracted to how small you can become – and if they do, then run and run fast. Others are attracted to that which makes you, you.
2. Playing Small is Manipulative
Playing small is a subtle form of manipulation. Because when we play small in relationship dynamics, the truth is we want or need something from others. And we don’t know how to fulfill those needs on our own. So we project that need onto somebody else, raising them on a pedestal while shrinking ourselves. When we become someone else to get something from others (approval or even to avoid a conflict), we manipulate them by projecting a false image of who we are. Covering up the truth, which we believe isn’t good enough. By being kind, small, and submissive, the subconscious programming tells us we can get our needs met. But it’s time to stop playing small and step into your greatness. Playing small isn’t a good foundation for any relationship.
If being in your power means that someone gets upset with you, withdraws their love, then it isn’t a real bond between you and them. It’s built on illusions that are so fragile that the truth can burst them into dust.
3. It Isn’t Enlightened, It’s an Ego
There is that pervasive collective belief that you have to suppress yourself continually to be enlightened. But this is not so. Because through suppressing the self, we can’t find the true self. Thus the ego keeps us in a vicious loop. When you know thyself, the false image of self falls away. It has no other option but to do just that. And so, when we’re playing small, we can sometimes fall victim to the ego’s idea that it’s spiritual. This false modesty and kindness are being projected onto others because we actually are afraid to dive deep to find out what we’re made of.
This life is about finding inner alignment with the language of the soul. When we are connected to the center of our being, we know who we are and walk our path with integrity. Playing small limits the actual expression of the soul and give space for the shadow to rise.
Where do you play it small in your life?
What are you afraid would happen if you stepped into your full soul’s expression?
Which relationships would be shaken if you stepped into your power?
What might you be unconsciously trying to protect from by playing it small?