Break Free From Playing Small

Break Free From Playing Small

Don’t you love those ‘aha moments’? I had one recently that was triggered by one of my favorite quotes.

Most of you have heard that amazing Marianne Williamson quote, made especially famous by Nelson Mandela in his 1994 Inaugural Speech. Here it is:

Most of my childhood I attempted to be either sweet or invisible. There are exceptions, for sure. (Like the time I drenched the motorcyclist going by our house with the watering hose, for no apparent reason.)

I had figured out that if I shrunk and let others be big then they felt better about themselves and their mood was better and I was in less danger of their anger, at least for a little while.

I used to get my Dad to teach me things, like how the furnace worked, because I could tell that he felt better when he could be the teacher and be looked up to. (I guess my love for psychology started early.)

If you know me at all now you know I have found my voice, own my space and am not afraid to 'own my brilliance'. I have surrounded myself with strong, opinionated, assertive friends and love seeing strong women around me succeed and go for it.

What lingers?

I’ve wrestled with this awareness that me literally being small physically has translated to feeling vulnerable, feeling little girlish, not being taken seriously.

The psychology student in me has been bothered by this puzzle.

I believe it’s a pendulum swing. In the healing journey we often grow enough to move away from the original dysfunctional pattern. I no longer want to shrink. I don’t want to be invisible. I do want my voice and opinions heard.

Here’s the catch.

When we embrace the opposite of a previous dysfunctional pattern, we still aren’t free.

Reaction isn’t freedom. We are still being controlled by the original self-protection strategy.

My healthy place will be when I don’t have to prove to myself or anyone else that I’m truly not small. I will no longer need to rely on symbolism of any kind. To my core I will be comfortable with who I am. I suspect this is a life-long journey but I fully intend to keep getting further and further along that journey.

What self protection strategy are you still holding on to that gets in your way?

If you were to play big this week what would you do differently?

Until next time,


Marilyn is an Executive and Leadership Coach with Capacity Building Coaching, holding her Professional Certified Coach designation with the International Coach Federation. Marilyn provides professional coaching for executive and business leaders, mentor coaching for coaches, and leadership development support in the form of coaching skills training, soft-skills development, facilitation of key discussions and team coaching.

Marilyn is author of everyday resiliency workbook “How Absorbent Are Your Shocks?”, available on Amazon. Subscribe to “Marilyn’s Musings” twice monthly blogposts for more leadership and professional development content.

20 comments (Add your own)

1. Sandy wrote:
Love this Marilyn! So describes many years of my life and now the difficulty of finding the middle ground of enough and not "too much"!!

Sat, November 21, 2015 @ 9:24 AM

2. wrote:
I'm gone to inform my little brother, that he should also visit this webpage on regular basis to obtain updated from most recent gossip.

Sat, May 4, 2019 @ 6:29 AM

3. wrote:
My partner and I stumbled over here by a different web page
and thought I may as well check things out. I like what I see so now
i'm following you. Look forward to finding out about your web
page repeatedly.

Thu, May 16, 2019 @ 4:47 PM

4. wrote:
Very quickly this site will be famous among all blog people, due
to it's good content

Fri, July 19, 2019 @ 12:02 PM

5. wrote:
Hello everybody, here every one is sharing these kinds of knowledge, so it's nice to read this webpage,
and I used to go to see this webpage all the time.

Thu, July 25, 2019 @ 8:46 AM

6. wrote:
Pretty nice post. I simply stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have truly enjoyed browsing
your weblog posts. After all I will be subscribing on your feed and I'm
hoping you write once more very soon!

Mon, September 23, 2019 @ 4:20 PM

7. wrote:
Heya i'm for the primary time here. I came across this board and I find It really helpful & it helped me out
a lot. I'm hoping to present one thing again and help others like you helped

Thu, October 3, 2019 @ 5:15 PM

8. wrote:
Wow, this piece of writing is pleasant, my younger sister is analyzing such things, therefore I am going to inform

Fri, October 11, 2019 @ 7:48 AM

9. wrote:
Can you tell us more about this? I'd love to find out more details.

Mon, October 14, 2019 @ 7:45 AM

10. wrote:
Hi! Someone in my Facebook group shared this website with us
so I came to check it out. I'm definitely loving the information. I'm book-marking and will be tweeting this to my followers!
Exceptional blog and superb design and style.

Tue, November 12, 2019 @ 2:36 AM

11. wrote:
My brother recommended I might like this blog.
He was entirely right. This put up actually made my day. You can not
imagine simply how a lot time I had spent for this info! Thanks!

Sun, November 24, 2019 @ 1:55 AM

12. wrote:
Hi, I do believe this is a great website. I stumbledupon it ;) I am going
to return once again since i have saved as a favorite it.

Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you be rich and continue to help other people.

Thu, November 28, 2019 @ 7:05 AM

13. wrote:
After going over a few of the articles on your web page, I honestly
appreciate your technique of blogging. I bookmarked it to my bookmark
webpage list and will be checking back soon. Please visit
my website as well and let me know how you feel.

Sun, December 1, 2019 @ 2:11 PM

14. wrote:
It's an amazing post designed for all the online viewers; they will take advantage from it I am

Fri, December 6, 2019 @ 7:10 PM

15. wrote:
I was wondering if you ever thought of changing the page layout of your blog?
Its very well written; I love what youve got to say. But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could
connect with it better. Youve got an awful
lot of text for only having 1 or 2 pictures. Maybe you could space
it out better?

Mon, December 9, 2019 @ 12:37 PM

16. wrote:
This site truly has all of the information and facts I wanted concerning this subject and didn't
know who to ask.

Tue, December 31, 2019 @ 6:41 PM

17. wrote:
I every time spent my half an hour to read this weblog's articles all the time along with a cup of coffee.

Mon, January 13, 2020 @ 5:52 PM

18. wrote:
Genuinely when someone doesn't understand after that its up to other people that they will help,
so here it takes place.

Wed, January 15, 2020 @ 6:31 PM

19. wrote:
Wow, that's what I was looking for, what a stuff! present here at this website,
thanks admin of this web page.

Fri, January 24, 2020 @ 11:25 AM

20. wrote:
Appreciate this post. Let me try it out.

Mon, February 17, 2020 @ 2:25 PM

Add a New Comment


Comment Guidelines: No HTML is allowed. Off-topic or inappropriate comments will be edited or deleted. Thanks.

Events Calendar