Your Playing Small Does Not Serve the World

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starlight 1024x768 Your Playing Small Does Not Serve the World“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?…

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…

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.”

–Marianne Williamson


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12 Comments

  1. ghada on 29.11.2011 at 17:46 (Reply)

    very empowering.

  2. Phil Holmes on 29.11.2011 at 17:53 (Reply)

    You find the most inspiring (and daunting) quotations. Williamson’s words made me think – and I don’t mean that in a flippant or casual way. I did not intend to sit down and think when I pulled up your site last night. I was just skimming through my list of favorite sites, came upon yours in its turn, and as soon as I read the first sentence, I knew that I had to stop. I am grateful to you and to her for that moment of stopping.

    1. Susan Cain on 29.11.2011 at 20:22 (Reply)

      you’re very welcome!

  3. Leslie Pendleton on 30.11.2011 at 09:04 (Reply)

    Thank you for posting this very eye-opening passage from Marianne Williamson. It provided a stark reminder that I need to stop playing small to help others feel more secure about themselves.

  4. Thomas Paine on 30.11.2011 at 11:23 (Reply)

    An interesting passage from Marianne Williamson, primarily due to my own experiences. What I have discovered is that, while “let(ting) our own light shine” may “give other people permission to do the same,” it will, in the case of those who see our “light” as a threat to their position, prestige, or economic security, cause them to fear and hate us and to take such actions as they deem sufficient to remove us as competitors. Over the years, I have been railroaded out of enough organizations to know that this is the case and find that my life is much less turbulent, if also less satisfying, by my “playing small.”

    I would be interested to know if others have had this same experience. And particularly interested to know if anyone has had a different experience.

  5. Jane Calderon on 01.12.2011 at 23:38 (Reply)

    Thank you for sharing this thought-provoking passage, Susan. I have a tendency to play down what I perceive as my good qualities in the erroneous belief that others will see through the humility and realize that I am only trying to not outshine them. However, all this has done for me is give the impression that I am weak and naive, and since most of the world is still deceived in ornament (Bassanio was most correct in “Merchant Of Venice”), my acting out “dumber than my mark” (as Robert Greene advised in 48 Laws of Power) isn’t working to my benefit at all! I need to become less humble, because since we live in the age of Personality (not Character, sadly), people value only those who display the most excellent acting skills.

  6. Chauntrell on 03.12.2011 at 20:58 (Reply)

    When I am myself some people think I am being a a know-it-all sometimes and so sometimes I don’t say anything. I believe I just resourceful. I guess there is a thin line.

  7. Brittany on 04.12.2011 at 20:04 (Reply)

    Cool I saw part of this passage on a video my friend was in trying to encourage people to join crossfit. It was a neat video but I’m still not sure about crossfit, haha. My friend gets awfully sore after those workouts and they sound pretty intense.

  8. Write in 2012 | Certain Extent on 01.01.2012 at 21:52

    [...] Anyway, my unsolicited advice: write something this year.  No excuses. [...]

  9. Chris on 16.04.2012 at 21:58 (Reply)

    Way to take out the entire meaning of the quote. You didn’t quote it correctly. You left out..”who are you not to be? YOU ARE A CHILD OF GOD.” “You are a child of God comes directly directly after the question posed, “who are you not to be?” It was put there for a purpose and you ironically left it out….

  10. Dianne on 16.05.2013 at 01:52 (Reply)

    This is my all time favourite quote! Marianne Williamson has been my greatest teacher for over twenty years and now I truly “get” this quote and its meaning. This quote has helped me in every situation choose “love over fear”; and so I find I experience great moments of synchronicity when I am in this space. Thank you too Susan for all your work.

  11. […] 2. Remember: your playing small does not serve the world! […]

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