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How to Stop Playing Small and Expand in Life [2020]

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Have you been playing small?


Not taking more than “your share” in the world? 


Do you feel like you only deserve a certain amount of money, or love, or happiness?


And refuse go after more than “your share” of anything because you either don’t deserve it or it somehow isn’t fair to others?


“Playing small usually means we dismiss what we truly want in life in order to maintain a present-moment illusion of security, acceptance, or control.”

 – How to Stop Playing Small

Are you playing small because you’re afraid of the consequences?


Afraid of feeling greedy? Or because it somehow makes you a selfish (or ungrateful) person? 


If so, let me ask you this…


Who told you how much you deserve?


Who set the amount? 


Who told you that you can’t have what you truly want in this world? 


 Would you be surprised if I told you it was YOU? 


You’ve unconsciously set an amount and then bound yourself to it. This ‘scarcity contract’ has kept you from expanding and taking up your rightful place (and space) in the world.

You've unconsciously set an amount and then bound yourself to it. This 'scarcity contract' has kept you from expanding and taking up your rightful place (and space) in the world. Click To Tweet


But even though most of us fall victim to our own thinking at some point in our lives, it’s never too late to become the person you want to be and live the life you deserve.


A pinterest image for a blog post of a person in a coat looking up at the night sky that says How to Stop Playing Small and Expand in Life


In this article we’ll explore questions like:

  • Why do we play small?
  • How do you stop playing small?
  • What does it mean to live abundantly? 
  • How do you get more out of life?
  • How do you get from a scarcity to an abundance mindset?
  • What does it mean to change from the inside out?


So if you’ve ever thought, “I deserve better than this. I want more than this. There has to be more to life than this.” … this article is for you.


 The goal of this article is to teach you the easiest way to stop playing small and then empower you to expand your life so you can finally start living the life you deserve. 



Why Do We Play Small in Life?

We begin our childhoods curious and full of potential. Some of us maintain that curiosity, open-mindedness, and abundance mindset, carrying it into adulthood. However, most of us fall victim to a closed, fixed mind, full of fear. A mind that sees scarcity everywhere. 


We adopt these mental and behavioral patterns from the people around us. This starts our pattern of “playing small”, which limits our growth, fulfillment, and opportunities in life. 


“Playing small means our actions are motivated by our fears, insecurities, low self-worth, and scarcity. It’s impulsive, reactive — and often frantic.”

  – How to Stop Playing Small

The habits and behavioral patterns sneak in so subtly that we assume it’s just who we are. And how we’ll always be. So we don’t pay any attention to them.


Then ten years down the road we wonder how our lives have gotten so far off track from where we hoped we’d be. Clueless as to how or why it happened. Especially since what we did was no different than what everybody else was doing.



Stop Living Someone Else’s Life

Our scarcity conditioning often shows up as living the way others have influenced us (or expected us) to live. 


This could mean:

  • Living by some else’s standards/rules/expectations


  • Living the life someone else planned for you


  • Living in a way that isn’t aligned with your heart/soul/purpose/inner longings/values


  • Being afraid to upset the status quo or go against the norm


  • Being afraid to stand out or be  different than your peers


  • Sacrificing your dreams for comfort


  • Not being who or what you want to be because it’s not what people like you do


  • Toning down your individuality and personality to plain vanilla while your inner peacock screams for release


Most of these are survival instincts and herd mentality. Leftover from our ancestors who needed to conform to stay alive.


They’re programmed into your subconscious mind and believe they’re there for your protection.


Playing small keeps you safe inside your comfort zone. From that perspective, any attempt to grow or change outside the limits of your “scarcity contract” is seen as a threat to your safety. And even as a threat to your relationships or social status.


“All through your life you’re going to be asked to sit down, to conform, comply and compromise, and it can be very deadly if you get in the habit of doing that.”

  – Why We Play Small

What has playing small ever done for you? What would happen if you set yourself free?


Captain Marvel Breaks Free Scene


What Does it Mean to Live Abundantly? 

While there isn’t an instruction manual on how to live an Abundant Life….


I can tell you it doesn’t mean taking whatever you want at all costs or stepping on people to get ahead.


For example, it doesn’t mean eating all the food before your family, friends, or co-workers get to it. That’s not living abundantly, that’s being a dick.


Moving from playing small to living abundantly means being grateful for what you have while believing there’s more than enough to go around.


So if you saw a situation where there was a limited amount, and some of your co-workers had work to finish before they could eat lunch, you wouldn’t gorge yourself while saying “first come, first serve”. You’d look for a win-win solution for everyone. 


In this case it’d mean being considerate and sharing with your fellow humans. Appreciating them for the extra work they’re putting in and making sure there’s food left for them when they do get a break. 


 Abundance is trusting you won’t starve and the universe/God/etc will provide for you in another way. It’s about lifting each other up through empowerment, generosity, acceptance, and respect.  



Benefits of Living Abundantly 

When you decide to stop playing small and let out your inner power, your life will expand in a variety of ways.


  • You’ll feel more comfortable in your own skin.


  • You’ll feel safe and accepted in your environment. Unless your environment is unsafe or abusive. In that case, finding a way to get away from it might be the most self-loving and empowering thing you can do for yourself and your loved ones.


  • You’ll be more at peace with yourself. By unconditionally loving and accepting yourself. Flaws and all.


  • You’ll feel excited (instead of defeated or anxious) when you imagine new goals for your life.


  • You’ll feel thankful and generous knowing that whatever you give will come back to you in some way. Multiplied.


  • You’ll feel confident in your ability to overcome obstacles and continue to move forward anytime you feel stuck in life. 




Trauma Can Force You to Play Small

Near the beginning of this past summer I began having digestive problems. The discomfort started as normal acid reflux and bloating but worsened over the course of a month.


At that point the bloating turned painful and lasted most of the day. With it came pains running up and down my back, into my neck, through my chest, and panic attacks almost every time I ate a meal. Needless to say, I barely ate. And lost 25 pounds in less than a month.


My doctor ran tests, did an ultrasound, an MRI, and changed my reflux medication twice … nothing helped and the tests came back negative for organ problems. Which surprised us since we’d been almost certain it was the gallbladder.


One day while in the shower a thought came to mind… what if the bloating was a physical manifestation of the emotional pain I’d been going through internally. 


If you’ve read my About Page or welcome post you already know that I had knee surgery in summer 2018 after a fall and chest/shoulder surgery in summer 2019 when my chest tendons tore and I dropped a 350 pound barbell on my chest. 


Even though the wounds are healed and the therapy is done, the experiences and consistent pain lead to a form of PTSD. Starting with anxiety attacks every time I went to the gym or felt unexpected  chest pains. The combination eventually triggered high blood pressure.


Not only the pain and anxiety, but I had made a lot of bad health choices while trying to ignore the pain and trauma and force my life to feel normal again.


My shower thought moved on to wondering what if living in such a fearful emotional state, resisting reality, and constricting my life to the point of trying to control every little detail triggered all of these health problems?


And what if the bloating was a wake up call that I needed to expand my life again? To expand in the world and get back to being myself again.


An image of a quote that says Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. By Howard Thurman



The Easiest Way to Stop Playing Small and Expand in Life

Back to the Fundamentals.


While going through the digestive and panic issues, I was in no condition to learn anything new and complex. I had already tried yoga positions and stretches, diet changes and endless journaling to relieve the bloating, to no avail. So I went back to what I’d used to heal myself from the inside out 15 years earlier, when I was suffering from depression in college.


Metaphysics, meditation, and mindfulness. In three easy steps.


This is what you’re going to learn how to use today to stop playing small and expand your life.


Step 1) Accept yourself and your life completely. 


The pain, the problems, your past mistakes, the current reality of your life situation and how you ended up here. All of it. 


These are the facts. You don’t have to like them. Your job is to stop resisting them and fully accept them.


“Start by acknowledging that there is resistance. Be there when it happens, when the resistance arises. Observe how your mind creates it, how it labels the situation, yourself, or others. Look at the thought process involved. Feel the energy of the emotion. By witnessing the resistance, you will see that it serves no purpose.

By focusing all your attention on the Now, the unconscious resistance is made conscious, and that is the end of it. You cannot be conscious and unhappy, conscious and in negativity. Negativity, unhappiness, or suffering in whatever form means that there is resistance, and resistance is always unconscious.”

  – Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now, p. 210


Step 2) Begin to reprogram yourself based on how you do want to think, feel, behave, and live.


This is where you open your mind to new options and decide on a new mindset. A mindset that is aligned with who and how you want to be. An empowering mindset. 


You’ll begin to see how much better life can be once you start changing some of your basic reactions and  behaviors. 


The rest of this article focuses primarily on teaching you how to do this step.


Related: If you aren’t sure what you want for your life, read this self-awareness article.


Step 3) Mindfully watch yourself as you undo the old thought patterns and behaviors. 


Mindfulness means fully allowing yourself to feel and experience everything that’s happening to you. You do this by staying centered (and alert) in the present moment while observing your thoughts, emotions, sensations, behavior patterns, and your reactions to triggers mindfully.


This means no resisting, repressing, or self-judgement. Otherwise they will keep coming back stronger and can even turn into mental health issues like anxiety or panic attacks. In other words, you would be fueling the fire. The goal is to let it fizzle out.


Mindfully observing, on the other hand, helps slow their momentum and deprogram them.


“When your pain is deep, you will likely have a strong urge to escape from it rather than surrender to it. You don’t want to feel what you feel… There are many pseudo escapes — work, drink, drugs, anger, projection, suppression, and so on — but they don’t free you from the pain. Suffering does not diminish in intensity when you make it unconscious. 


When you deny emotional pain, everything you do or think as well as your relationships become contaminated with it. You broadcast it, so to speak, as the energy you emanate, and others will pick it up subliminally. If they are unconscious, they may even feel compelled to attack or hurt you in some way, or you may hurt them in an unconscious projection of your pain. You attract and manifest whatever corresponds to your inner state.”

  – Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now, p. 222


Watch For Self-Sabotage as You Grow

As you begin to heal and expand, you have to be careful you aren’t doing things just to prove you aren’t afraid to “live”.


Actions you’ll regret later. Behaviors that aren’t really who you want to be. Decisions that hurt your body or other people and sabotage your future. 


In other words, doing whatever is convenient for instant gratification. Behaviours that are fine in moderation, but can snowball into addictions when they’re used to cover up pain.


Addictions like food, alcohol, shopping, adrenaline, or sex. For example, going further into debt buying things you don’t need, just because it feels good.


Doing too much partying or clubbing just to go against what you’re supposed to be doing or to rebel against people in your life who might criticize you for it. Eating unhealthy snacks or too much food for fun and pleasure or to avoid boredom, thinking, or work.


To sum it up, any behavioural patterns that help you avoid confronting your real problems. A type of resistance.


We’re all guilty of it. And while it may seem like a good plan at the time…


You’re only “delaying the pain”. It’ll  come back around in the results you get later. For example: weight gain, no money, relationship problems, health issues, or injuries. The pain can also come back emotionally, meaning you’ll feel even worse about yourself in the future or develop mental health problems.


“Because you’re focused on the worst possible scenario and all the reasons you can’t possibly have what you want, and there are lots of emotions and specifics and faith involved, you create more of what you don’t want over and over with expert precision.”

  – Jen Sincero, p. 92, You Are A Badass At Making Money

Confronting your problems head on with mindfulness, acceptance, presence, and a mindset upgrade will help you avoid these trappings.



Stop Playing Small By Reprogramming Your Mindset With Chakra Balancing Affirmations

When I was young I studied electronics because I needed to know how everything worked on the inside.


That same curiosity during my depression inspired me to figure out “why I was the way I was” on the inside, emotionally, mentally, physically, and eventually spiritually.


Studying my own inner “electronics”, or human energy system, led to learning about chakras. 


While there are 100+ chakras throughout the body, we’ll be focused on the seven major ones today.


Chakras are disc-shaped, spinning energy centers throughout the energy body. And like any other energy source, they can function normally (balanced), or go out of balance in either direction. Causing (or forewarning) problems throughout the rest of the energy system. 


Each chakra corresponds to different body parts (and organs), emotional and psychological functions, character traits, behaviors, belief systems, skills, areas of development (relationships, communication, confidence, etc.), and ways of relating to the world. Also, each chakra has a specific color, sound (music note), and frequency. 


That part does get a little complicated but bear with me. You don’t need to learn all of that for this to work.


What is important for you to understand is how you can reprogram your chakras when they are out of balance and not in alignment with who you want to be and where you want to go in your life. 


You can change both how you see the world and how you are seen in the world. Which changes how you function in the world, how you’re treated, and the results you get.


In other words, you can reprogram yourself to stop playing small.



Healing From the Inside Out

Healing the chakras changes both your mindset and circumstances in the outer world.


Because they are energetic in nature and part of the energy body, they respond to (and influence) the energy of your thoughts and emotions, which are also energetic in nature. Emotions = energy in motion.


What I’m getting at is this.


 By flooding each chakra with positive energy, in the form of self-empowering thoughts, corresponding to their respective functions, they will begin to rebalance. 


How do you know if your chakras are out of balance?

You’ll know whether your chakras have balanced energy, excessive energy, or are deficient by comparing your thoughts, feelings, and belief systems to those of a balanced chakras natural state. 


Chakra charts are helpful for this purpose, but aren’t necessary. That’s a personal preference. 


I like to experiment, test, and verify everything. So for me, monitoring and retesting my mindset as my chakras rebalanced themselves was exciting. It’s kind of like doing a fun science experiment where I’m the guinea pig.


If you’ve been playing small most of your life, some of your chakras are most likely out of balance. And if that’s the case, you’ll know they’re rebalancing when your mindset, energy levels, and attitude start to improve. You’ll feel more optimistic and empowered. 


“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.”

  – Marianne Williamson


A pinterest image for a blog post of a man looking up at the stars that says How to Stop Playing Small Expand in Life

Self-Empowering Chakra Balancing Affirmations List

Below are examples of chakra balancing affirmations. They are geared towards self-empowerment and expanding in life. I sorted the affirmations based on the chakra they’ll influence the most. 


You may have to re-word some of them to fit your personal situation. Some are more on the generic side and others are personal to me. My goal was to give you a wide range of examples to choose from and work with.


I’ve also included different tenses, not just present tense. Sometimes you need to ease into affirmations by making them more believable based on where you are now.


Go through the list and see which affirmations resonate with you. Pick a few to start with and use them once or twice a day.


Repeat them in your head, out loud, or write them down. Aim for three to five repetitions each (5 – 10 if you’re feeling ambitious).


You can repeat them more than that, but I wouldn’t recommend any less than three repetitions.


I don’t do less than three reps unless I have a few long lists of themed affirmations to use and I want to put as many positive thoughts about a variety of subjects into my mind at once.


By themed affirmations I mean areas like: Stress relief, love, time management, growth mindset, money mindset, relationships, writing, taking action, healthy eating, etc.


You can find a list for almost any area of life online, or you can learn to write your own. I do a combination of the two. And will be writing blog posts about choosing the right affirmations for yourself and writing your own affirmations, soon.


Here are the chakra balancing affirmations for growth and abundance.


A blog post title image showing the chakras and says Chakra Balancing Affirmations.

1) Root Chakra (Physicality, Security, Abundance, Red)

  • I have the right to take up physical space in this world.
  • I don’t have to play small, sit in a corner, and be satisfied with a small amount.
  • My share is infinite and abundant.
  • I came up with my version of what I deserve so I can change it.
  • I will step out of my comfort zone.
  • My share can be abundant and so can everyone else’s. 
  • I deserve just as much as everyone else.
  • I have more than enough of everything I need.
  • I have excellent health.
  • I will no longer body shame myself.
  • My body has the right to expand and feel comfortable in its own skin. It doesn’t have to fit into any socially acceptable stereotype of a man’s/woman’s body. There are people who love this body style, scars, beards, and all. My fiancé being one of them.
  • I have the right to have the things I want and to live where I want (despite racists, close-minded people, or anyone who I don’t fit in around).


2) Sacral Chakra (Feelings, Pleasure, Orange)

  • I have the right to expand my feelings.
  • I accept how I feel about everything.
  • I can express my feelings safely and without fear of judgement.
  • I can respect others feelings without devaluing my own and vice versa.
  • I don’t have to keep my feelings to myself or feel ashamed of how I feel.
  • My emotions and feelings deserve to exist in this world. They provide important messages and signals from my subconscious mind and soul.
  • I deserve to have passion and joy in my life.


3) Solar plexus Chakra (Personal Power, Confidence, Yellow)

  • I deserve to be in this world.
  • I’m free to want what I want and have what I want.
  • I have the ability to be, do, and have what I want in this world.
  • I can become who I want to become.
  • I will get out of my own way and start being who I was born to be.
  • I am enough.
  • I am important in this world.
  • I will stop apologizing for being me.
  • I can create the life and world I want to live in.
  • I have a right to have power in the world.
  • I have a right to my opinions and they’re just as important and valid as anyone else’s.
  • No one has the right to belittle me or my opinions. 
  • I am capable of reaching my goals and having the life I deserve.
  • My goals and dreams are mine for the taking if I’m willing to do the work.
  • I feel empowered to accomplish my dreams.
  • I overcome challenges easily.
  • If I get knocked down, I’ll get right back up and try again.


4) Heart Chakra (Love, Acceptance, Relationships, Green)

  • It’s OK to feel how I feel about the things and people I love.
  • I have a right to love who I choose to love.
  • I accept myself for the passions and interests that I have.
  • I am connected to my heart.
  • My purpose and passions are important and allowed to exist and take up space in this world.
  • I have a right to devote my time and energy to what I love and to what’s important to me.
  • My passion projects are worthy of love and respect.
  • People accept me for who I am.
  • I fully accept myself unconditionally. 
  • I love myself unconditionally. 
  • I fully forgive myself for my past mistakes.
  • I deserve love in my life.
  • I’m open to giving and receiving love.


5) Throat Chakra (Voice, Communication, Inner Truth, Blue)

  • I speak my truth with confidence.
  • I have the right to say what I want to say.
  • I communicate respectfully with others and they communicate respectfully with me.
  • My voice is necessary and important in this world.
  • My inner truth is just as important as everyone else’s.
  • I have the right to express and create what I want.
  • I don’t have to be afraid to speak my mind anymore. 
  • I express my true thoughts and feelings even when I’m afraid.
  • I will stop putting myself at a disadvantage to avoid confronting others
  • I will stop letting others talk over me and walk all over me
  • I have discovered the real me.


6) Third Eye Chakra (Vision, Indigo)

  • I trust my inner wisdom.
  • I can imagine what I want for my life and make it happen.
  • If I can imagine it, I can have it.
  • I trust my intuition and instincts to guide my decisions and actions.
  • The fact that I can desire and  visualize a better life means that it already exists as a possible reality for me.
  • I am courageous enough to live my life’s purpose.
  • I live a life full of meaning.


7) Crown Chakra (Universal Connection, Oneness, Violet or White)

  • I am always connected to the universe.
  • I am complete Here and Now.
  • I am at one with the source of life at all times.
  • My views and feelings about God, religion, spirituality, enlightenment, and the Truth of existence are valid and acceptable. 
  • I have a right to believe in whatever I choose to believe in.
  • My inner truth is just as important as any one else’s. 
  • My spiritual experiences are valid even if no one around me can relate.
  • My beliefs don’t define me. I update them as I learn, grow, and evolve. 
  • I no longer believe what I was socially conditioned to believe. I can choose what I believe in.
  • My beliefs are aligned with my core values and life purpose.


Side note: Pay attention to how you feel as you recite them.


Uncomfortable feelings and disbelief point to inner resistance. This will alert you to the limiting beliefs you are holding onto related to a particular area of your life. 


Question the negative beliefs that come up to see if they’re true for your current life … most won’t be! But if so, do you want them to stay true for you?


Decide what you’d rather have  happen in your life and make a new affirmation about that. Only you can decide who you want to be and what path is right for you.


“In other words, the more you are YOU, the more power you manifest in the world. The more you’re YOU, the more influence you have on others. The more you’re guided by what matters to you, the more personal power and thus, empowerment you have.”

  – 4 Ways to Empower Yourself Today



An image of the Arc de Triumph with a quote that says Expansion attracts challenges. Don't reject growth by hiding in the corner. Breath, stay present, and keep an open heart.

When you try to grow or expand your life in some way, you’ll face challenges. It’s unavoidable. But you have to stay present and keep your heart open.


Don’t expect to understand everything that’s going on. Allow the growth to happen. If you give in to fear, scarcity mindset, or fall back into your comfort zone … you won’t grow. 


And your life won’t change for the better. Which isn’t good for anyone.


“Be the change you want to see in the world” isn’t just a quote, it’s a way of life. When you finally step into your ideal self and live a life full of purpose, everyone benefits. 


“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.”

  – Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles”

When you empower and inspire others to become their best selves, just by expanding your own life … taking up space in this world becomes a blessing to everyone around you.


What better reason is there than that to make positive changes to your life?


You got this. I believe in you.


Leave a comment below telling me which area of your life you want to expand in the most.




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11 thoughts on “How to Stop Playing Small and Expand in Life [2020]”

  1. A well-written article! Thank you for sharing so much. I’ve definitely been on a journey to embrace what I need and what/who makes me happy, rather than worrying or doing what others expect/want me to do. It’s empowering, a little scary and exciting!

  2. Great post! Most of the people choose to play small because they feel safe in their comfort zone. We need to learn to stop holding ourselves back. Thanks for sharing!

  3. this is a complete guide on how to stop playing small and get whatever we want in our lives.
    seriously valuable points.
    I think I need to read it twice or thrice to grasp the hole value.
    thanks for sharing this awesome post!

  4. this is a complete guide on how to stop playing small and get whatever we want in our lives.
    seriously valuable points.
    I think I need to read it twice or thrice to grasp the hole value.
    thanks for sharing this awesome post.

  5. Oh I yes, I have been there. But lately, Yoga nd Meditation has helped me to be grateful and be conscious of the moment. Also, I am trying to go beyond my limitations and the feeling is liberating!


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