Recently it occurred to me just how many ways I’ve been playing small, as in showing up to life half-assed. That feels weird to write, because I consider myself a hard worker, attentive friend, dedicated partner, etc…so where’s the disconnect?  I’m talking about all the ways I subconsciously minimize, deflect, or just flat out reject things like praise and positive reinforcement for being the badass woman I am.

It struck me a couple weeks ago when I caught myself responding to two separate friend’s kind words with responses that came out of my mouth as automatic reflexes. One response was an excuse, “no, I don’t think I lost weight, this is just a baggy sweater”, and the other was a deflection from taking a compliment to pointing out a flaw, “thanks, but you know what? I realized I don’t do this other thing so well” …..ok, Earth to Madeline! Wake up, hunny. What is happening in these moments? Cutting myself down and shrinking my self-worth, that’s what. This is one example, but let’s just say it’s a disservice that has blocked me from my highest potential for most of my life. How does the way we respond to praise impact us in such a profound way? Because our self-imposed limiting beliefs like they didn’t really mean that, they’re just being nice, that was a one time thing, may start as small examples, however, this is a reflection of a larger self-worth issue. If we’re so quick to brush off moments of accepting and receiving acknowledgment for our gifts and skills, how will we ever find the courage within to feel truly fulfilled in this life? I believe the stakes really are that high.

On the opposite side of the spectrum are those of us who cling greatly to the words and actions of others. While I have a tendency to deflect and divert, it is also common to derive personal value based on other’s perceptions of us. Both ways of being are guaranteed to extinguish our inner light.

What this boils down is a disconnect in really trusting that we are more beautiful and powerful than imaginable. Maybe this pattern is showing up in ways as big as a block to chasing down your wildest passions, your true soul purpose. There could be some mental chatter like, how could I possibly succeed? What would people think if I went for it and failed miserably? How can I trust myself enough to step out of my comfort zone? Maybe you feel something’s off, but you don’t have the slightest clue what it is. Paying attention to small scale examples of exerting your self-worth is a great place to start.

If you identify with any of this, please believe it’s not just you and I. Things like traditional gender roles, socialization, and family dynamics influence just how much we stand in our power. A lot of us have grown up with the idea that we need to stay in line, do what we’re told, and we better not get too full of ourselves and hog the spot light. Chances are, we developed these beliefs long ago. What beliefs are you holding onto about yourself that stem from somewhere other than your own mind? Take a look at how you really see yourself. What positive qualities do you posses? What inherent, unshakable truths lie deep within your soul? These are the strengths that will create a sense of home within you, and serve as a compass for the life you were created to live out. I’m here to say it’s time to let go of old stories that no longer align with the vision you hold for yourself. It’s time to step into your full potential, to reconnect with the gorgeous being you are. Put in motion the life you are meant to be living. That means giving up the game of playing small.

The stronger we can build up self-worth based on deep love and compassion for ourselves, the greater our ability is to take in the good, learn from, and let go of the bad. We develop courage based on the knowledge that we are always enough in every moment, and there’s still room to develop ourselves further. The truth is, none of us are living in this moment by coincidence. I believe we are here to learn, grow, and heal our collective humanity. When we show up small in life, we are doing a massive disservice to everyone around us. We have a calling to stand strong in our ability to create a force for good, to choose love (starting with loving ourselves), and to fully utilize our given gifts.

How this looks is different for each of us. The one thing we all share is the process of getting off autopilot. You know, all those subconscious defense mechanisms we use to avoid standing in our full power. My suggestion is to create enough awareness and insight to see where you need to shine that inner light a little brighter in your life. Some ideas for this are to spend time alone developing a deeper relationship with your inner being-meditate, be in nature, do yoga, journal, learn how to identify somatic cues your body is telling you when something feels off. Get curious and stay non-judgmental with what you find. Assess what needs an upgrade-perhaps soaking in acknowledgement (both from yourself and others), letting go of other’s ideas of you, shifting away from people who lower your vibration, leaving a job that you dread going to, or no longer fueling yourself with food that makes you feel tired and weighed down. The possibilities are endless. And then get excited. Pat yourself on the back, because you are making a conscious decision to level up. I honor your commitment to being the truest version of yourself.