“Playing small” is when we dismiss what we truly want in life in order to maintain a present-moment – short-term, temporary – illusion of comfort, security, acceptance, or control. Such actions are motivated by our fears, insecurities, low self-worth, and scarcity. It’s impulsive, reactive — and often frantic.
By contrast, “playing big” means we’re willing to experience short-term discomfort, risk, and uncertainty in the service of what we truly want — to feel alive, to experience greater love and connection with others, to feel a deep sense of peace, and to live with greater freedom. Our actions are motivated by what brings us true fulfillment and deep satisfaction. It is slower, focused, and more deliberate.
Some signs you are playing small and how to stop:
- You wait to be asked; you don’t offer (your services, talents, ideas). –> If you wait to be asked, the opportunity may never come. The only person who can make known what you have to offer is you. When waiting to be asked, you miss lots of opportunities.
- Fear defeats you. –> Say yes to new opportunities. Step out of your comfort zone. Don’t let fear hold you back.
- You are afraid to hear ‘no’. –> Learn to accept ‘no’. Don’t let the fear of hearing ‘no’ hold you back from asking or trying.
- You fill your life with doing things that don’t help you reach your goals. –> You can’t do everything. Prioritize.
- Try to keep yourself invisible. –> Get comfortable in the spotlight. Don’t minimize your accomplishments. Accept praise gracefully.
Show the world who you are. Ask for what you want. Be the ‘you’ you were born to be.