Where Are You Playing Small?

I was having lunch yesterday with business coach Mandy Wildman when she asked me a question about one of my business practices. When I explained it, she very nicely let me know that not only was I playing small, but I was allowing my clients to play small, too.

Mandy was absolutely right. Even though my intention was to be of service to the most people, the reasoning behind it was a limiting belief.

This is why even coaches need coaches!

And it brought to mind this quote by Marianne Williamson:

“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.”

The challenge becomes recognizing when we are playing small.

As I clearly demonstrate, playing small can hide in the best of intentions. If we are only focused on the surface of our thoughts and don’t probe them for depth of meaning and the feeling behind them, we can easily miss where we are limiting ourselves—and possibly others.

Because we think an astonishing number of thoughts a day, it is often easier to discover where we are playing small by focusing on how we are feeling. Negative emotions are a tipoff that we have some inaccurate thinking going on.

If I had truly stopped to probe how I was feeling around that business practice, I would have detected just a whiff of fear. Like a bloodhound catching a scent, that should have been enough to stop me in my tracks and begin digging for where that catabolic emotion was coming from.

But I had ignored that emotional guidance because I had heard other coaches talk about similar business practices. On the surface it seemed to meet my values, so I just plugged the policy in without examining it. This is easy to do because we generally assume that everyone else knows better than we do, which in itself is a limiting belief. Even expert advice may not be right for you.

If we take the time to examine—and question—our thoughts and beliefs we can discover weaknesses. Much like you can’t keep doing the same physical exercise the same way forever and expect to continue to get the same results, you have to look for beliefs that are no longer working and reach for new thoughts that better help you move forward.

And finally, you can talk to a coach who can help point out those thoughts and beliefs that you’ve accepted as true for so long that you don’t even recognize that they are actually hindering your progress in becoming the best possible version of you.

What can you do today to pay attention to your thoughts, feelings, and beliefs and make sure they’re strong, well-developed, in alignment with your core values, and are taking you in the direction that will help you meet your goals?

You are not meant to play small. You make yourself small by thinking you are less than you truly are. How you play in life is a choice.

Together we can do it!

Photo by tungphoto / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Shift That Thought

“I don’t really like vegetables.”

Until recently, this was a thought that I believed to be true. I had lots of evidence. Over my lifetime there has been a veritable trail of vegetables that I had eaten and thought, “Blagh.”

My New Year’s resolution to improve my nutrition meant more fruits and vegetables. The fruit I was down with. Heck, I even adore some of the summer vegetables. But January? As far as I was concerned, January is the peak of the winter-vegetable doldrums.

When I shared my goals for 2012 with my Life Coach (yes, us coaches have coaches because we know the power of coaching!), I boldly stated my limiting belief about vegetables. She asked me a key question that helped me shift my perspective about vegetables just enough that I was able to see a path around this obstacle.

Her brilliant question was, “How could you make eating vegetables more fun?

I determined that I could look for some new recipes. And I also could push past another limiting belief I had about drinking anything green and add some spinach to my protein shakes.

It turns out that I love vegetables! I especially love my Green Protein Shakes. Who knew that spinach, banana, vanilla protein powder, and cinnamon could taste so good? (Well, I guess lots of people did, but I had to overcome that limiting belief myself.)

How often do we limit ourselves because of an opinion, judgment, thought, idea, or past experience that we just assume is true?

For instance, how many of you have ever heard, “You have to clean your plate because there are starving children somewhere in the world?

Do you think that’s a limiting belief?

How true is it that your cleaning your plate is going to benefit any of those starving children?

How can that belief actually be harmful to you?

  • Cleaning your plate teaches you to disregard your body’s guidance that it’s had enough.
  • Eating too much food is at the heart of being overweight, which has serious health consequences.
  • People are often concerned about wasting food. Extra food will either go to waste in the garbage or will go to waste in your body. You can either waste it, or you waist it.
  • It contributes to a lack mentality. The feeling that “there isn’t enough so I have to eat more than I need.”

A lot of times, helping people see the flaws in their thinking is enough to help them move beyond it. But changing a long-standing belief system can impact underlying values.

If you’re upset by the idea of not cleaning your plate, what are the values you have that may be being challenged?

  • If it’s wanting to help those in need, what would be a more constructive action than cleaning your plate? Maybe donating to charities that feed the poor?
  • If the value is being sustainable, maybe you’ll want to start a composting system?
  • If it’s really just fear or lack, then maybe you have some work to do about trusting the abundance of the Universe?

Whenever you notice a thought that is holding you back in any way, ask yourself if that thought is still true. Unless it is a Universal Truth—a thought that is true no matter what, no matter who, and no matter when—what is it that you need to do to shift it?

All it takes is challenging those limiting beliefs just enough so that doors open, paths unfold, and obstacles disappear.

Together we can do it!

Photo by Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net