Community//

3 Steps To Shine Your Brightest & Stop Playing Small

Up until I hit rock bottom in my early twenties, I was constantly seeking external acceptance and trying to fit in.

Up until I hit rock bottom in my early twenties, I was constantly seeking external acceptance and trying to fit in. In primary school, I so desperately wanted to be like the popular girls that I would mimic how they sat and talked, perfecting my technique at home. I also pretended to be interested in netball when all I wanted to do was sing and dance. In high school, I still really wanted to fit in, so I tried really hard academically and got accepted into a top university to study a bachelor of business, but again all I wanted to do was be on the stage. And then after school (because I still hadn’t learned my lesson!) I tried to fit in by partying and drinking, but it really wasn’t my truth and I’d just end up feeling uncomfortable and disappointed in myself… 

In all those incidents I was shrinking — dimming my light and my uniqueness in order to feel accepted by others — when in hindsight, all I really needed to do was love and accept myself. 

Seeking external acceptance is the number one thing that is stopping you from truly shining in all areas of your life.  

So why do we do it? 

Marianne Williamson puts it so elegantly in her famous quote…

‘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, and 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 will not 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 is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.’

Our inner critic is what stops us from truly shining. 

Your inner critic lives in a constant state of fear and does not want you to shine or bring forth your brilliance to the world. 

Why? 

Because when you do, she cannot exist. Your inner critic can’t survive in the presence of love, bliss, joy, happiness, or kindness, so she’ll do whatever it takes to keep you permanently stuck in Fear Town… It’s just another one of her sneaky little games.  

But here’s the thing: shining your light, letting out your brilliance, stepping into your true power, sharing your uniqueness with the world, and being wholly and completely you is your birthright! To be anything less is dishonouring your sacred self, and means you’re keeping yourself small. And guess what? There is nothing you need to fix, change or improve about yourself before you ‘let’ yourself shine — you are perfect exactly the way you are. You just have to believe it.

So when you find yourself desperately trying to fit in or struck by a bout of ‘comparisonitis’ (two things I have suffered greatly from in my life), know that it’s just your inner critic’s games trying to keep you in Fear Town. Don’t play them! Do not participate in her sneaky ways and instead RISE UP! Enough is enough and now is the time. We aren’t getting any younger, we are only here for a short period, and now is the time to really step up. So stop waiting for the ‘perfect moment’ when you lose the weight, find the partner, have the job or the cash in the bank. That ‘perfect moment’ is right now! It’s ripe and juicy and waiting for you to grab hold with both hands and run with it. Go on — reach out and grab it. I double dare you.  

Of course, it’s easy to shrink and slip back into your comfort zone, but you can’t grow and evolve by hanging out where it’s safe; it’s simply not possible. To grow you need to shimmy your way through confusion and discomfort and muck. Sometimes it’s ugly and sometimes it’s tough, but that’s okay. At least you made the effort, and the Universe will reward you. 

Do what it takes and the rewards will come.

One thing I know for sure is that the Universe will not hand you gold nuggets on a silver platter if you aren’t willing to do the work. Yet I see people act that way all the time — they want glowing health, a thriving career, and their perfect soul mate to be plonked down in front of them, but they aren’t willing to actually show up wholeheartedly for themselves. The Universe simply doesn’t work like that; you must show up for you wholeheartedly and completely. 

Do that, and the world is your big, juicy coconut bliss ball. The rewards may not land in your lap right away, but they will come eventually. (They always do!) 

When I look back and reflect on the moments I have left on the table because I was too busy hanging out with my inner critic, my heart sinks because I will never get those precious opportunities back ever again. 

Nothing brought this lesson home harder than when my best friend passed on in 2015. There’s nothing quite like death to REALLY make you aware of how important it is to soak up every single moment for what it is.

That said, it’s also counterproductive to grip onto things we’re afraid of losing or letting slip through our fingers — whether it’s people, moments in time, or something else. For example, have you ever had that experience of being in the middle of something that’s really special (say a gathering of your friends or family, or a momentous occasion like a birthday or wedding) and all of a sudden you get stricken with the fact that you’ll never-ever experience this particular moment again and you Must. Hold. Onto. It. at all costs? 

That’s your inner critic too, trying to get you OUT of the present moment and into a state of fear. (And as I’m sure we’ve all experienced, it can ruin your mood — and your whole day — quick-smart.) Really, truly, undeniably, the only answer to any of these scenarios is presence.

Real joy lies in the present moment.

If you want to truly shine your light SO bright in all areas of your life, you have to gently close the door on your inner critic and return to LOVE. I know it’s not always easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy (if it was, everyone would be doing it 24/7) but it’s oh-so-worth it. 

Choosing love over fear takes commitment to yourself and the regular flexing of your self-love muscle. Like anything else in life, the more you do it the better you get at it. It’s not rocket science; it just takes dedication to being your true self… 

Here are my 3 steps to shine your light brighter every day:

  1. At the first hint that your inner critic has entered the building, gently close the door on her. 
  2. Choose to return to your heart-space and dial up your worthy-o-meter.
  3. Recommit to yourself by flexing your self-love muscle and doing something from you love and that makes you feel good and lights you up.

Repeat this process whenever your inner critic rears her head and you find yourself sipping cocktails with her in Fear Town. 

Now I want to hear from you — how does your inner critic stop you from truly shining? And what is one thing you are going to do that makes you feel good the next time you catch her sneaking in? Share with me in the comments below.

As always, thank you so much for being so open and loving in the comments.

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres. We publish pieces written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Learn more or join us as a community member!
Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...

Community//

The healing is coming, I promise

by Cherie-Ann Darling
Well-Being//

When To Quit Your Own Family

by Liz Breuder
Community//

The Woman Behind the B*tch Face: Transforming Cultural Norms to Live Our Leadership Potential

by Jeanny Chai

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.