I posted this quick video on social media as I got some clarity on self-care and trees. Check out the video here.
As I sat with the information for a while and continued to insights that I wanted to share.
Looking to Nature for not only caring for ourselves, but we can also use it to look at playing small; really the 2 aren’t entirely exclusive.
When I talked about a tree not sacrificing itself for others. It doesn’t say “oh no you take the water and the sunlight; I’ll just stay here in the shade” It takes what it needs to grow big and strong so that it can take care of the eco-system around it. As a tiny sapling, it cannot support the eco-system but as a big tree, it can. It can shade new saplings, house birds and animals, feed and support the whole eco-system around it.
This is the same when I think about playing small.
What I mean by playing small is not showing up in your life completely and authentically. It is not speaking your truth because you may hurt others, it is people-pleasing and sacrificing yourself to be accepted, it is not being BIG in life and shading your light for fear of stepping on toes. It could and does look different for everyone.
For me, I was playing small when I was in my social work world. What that looked like was me sacrificing myself while striving to be a “good worker”, it was following the ‘rules’ even though I knew at my core that it was only band-aiding bigger core issues, it was hiding my spiritual side because I feared being judged. All of this was me not being true to me, some of these actions I was aware of consciously and some were unconscious patterns.
So again, I look at Nature for wisdom, because after all we too are a part of Nature,too!
Looking at trees, again the sapling doesn’t say ‘oh no I don’t want to get too big’, I may hurt someone’s feelings’ it just grows to be big and strong because that is what it is supposed to do. It is made to grow into the biggest, best tree it can be; so it does!
Even if you look at the animal kingdom. Where in nature does an animal sacrifice itself, or play small and weak to be accepted by the group? Can you imagine a wolf pack where the individual wolves don’t want to be too good of a hunter to spare others’ feelings? Or too good of a tracker so others don’t think they are arrogant?
NO! That is not what happens!
Each member of the pack has a role that they fulfill for the survival of all! They are the best hunters because that is their role in the pack or they are the best trackers so their pack survives.
We are not meant to be meek; we are not meant to hide our talents for fear of being “to big for our britches”. Even that colloquialism speaks to it the cultural programming around playing small … I mean Whose britches? If they are yours then they fit you, period!
Why I feel we play small.
There are a couple of reasons that I think we play small. These are stories that on some level we have accepted and now they are running our lives.
The first is that we will be viewed as arrogant, or egotistical. We fear that if we own our strengths or speak up, others will have a negative view of us; that we are not playing as part of the team.
Is this true? Do you ever think that your friends who speak up for themselves, or that own their strengths are arrogant? Do you see someone who is confident in their abilities as being an egomaniac? Of course not! We admire confidence, we marvel at people who are brave and put themselves out there, we cheer on those who have the courage to speak up. So why don’t you do this for yourself?
The other reason I think we play small is that we don’t want to hurt others. We feel if we shine too bright, we will shadow others and hurt them.
Is this true? Does showing up in your life owning all your gifts and talents mean you are trying to be better than others? Does it mean that you are saying well I am good, so you are crap? Does your dimming your light make others shine brighter?
NO! To all of these!
These stories that we tell ourselves are directly tied to our cultural and personal programming. The ‘be a good girl’ (aka nice, polite, cooperative girl) programming that teaches us to stay small. But what I think this comes down to on a core level is that we are so desperate to be loved and accepted that we sacrifice ourselves to be understood, to be included, and accepted by the majority.
I also think we play small because we are truly scared of our power, we are scared because we have been playing small for so long, (we have been going along to get along) that we can’t envision anything different, and the thought of how truly amazing we are, is terrifying!
I have struggled with this for most of my life, I was partially aware of it before but even now with it being fully in my awareness there are still times it comes up. That is how deep this programming runs. Although I have cleared and healed it on so many levels, it still pops up and it takes conscious consistent work to get me comfortable with showing up BIG in my life.
Something to think about
I want to leave you with this thought. What would happen in Nature if every tree, every animal, every flower stayed small. We would have no forests, no gardens, and no species. It is not up to everyone else to do the work and rise up in their life, it is up to each and everyone one of us to show up BIG in our own lives.
Take the Next Step
What is one area of your life you are playing small?
What is one thing you can do to step up for yourself?