As women, we have been conditioned to believe that playing small is necessary in order to make others feel more comfortable. This has been reinforced by patriarchal systems that have favored men and relegated women to subservient roles. As a result, many women have internalized the belief that they should be passive, accommodating, and self-effacing, which can prevent them from fully realizing their potential and living their lives authentically. In this blog post, we will explore how women play small to make other people comfortable, including the role of patriarchal systems, internal stories, and how to recognize if you are making yourself smaller. We will also provide steps to begin living authentically and stepping into your full power and potential.
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Patriarchal systems have been in place for centuries and have favored men over women. These systems have created a culture in which men hold more power and privilege than women, and women are expected to conform to traditional gender roles that reinforce male dominance. This has led to a society in which women are often seen as less capable and less deserving of respect and recognition than men.
One way that patriarchy reinforces itself is by often unknowingly encouraging women to be quieter, passive, and playing small. How? They are often taught to be accommodating and to prioritize the needs and feelings of others over their own. They are encouraged to be quiet and passive, to not speak up for themselves, and to avoid conflict. These behaviors are reinforced by societal expectations, such as the idea that women should be nurturing and selfless, and that their primary role is to support their partners and families.
Internal Stories About Playing Small
In addition to societal expectations, many women have internalized beliefs and stories that reinforce the idea that they should be playing small. These stories may have developed as a result of past experiences, such as being told that they are too emotional or not smart enough, or they may be reinforced by the media, which often portrays women in stereotypical roles.
These internal stories can be powerful, and they can shape how women see themselves and their place in the world. For example, a woman who has been told that she is too emotional may believe that she needs to suppress her feelings in order to be taken seriously or to not lose relationships. Similarly, a woman who has been told that she is not smart enough may believe that she is not capable of achieving her goals, thus developing intense imposter syndrome and potentially making herself even smaller.
How to Recognize if You Are Making Yourself Smaller
It can be difficult to recognize when you are playing small, especially if it is something that you have been doing for a long time. However, there are some signs that you may be making yourself smaller in order to make others feel more comfortable.
One sign is that you are constantly putting others’ needs before your own. This may mean that you are always saying “yes” to requests even when you don’t have the time or energy to fulfill them. It may also mean that you are suppressing your own desires in order to avoid conflict or to avoid disappointing others.
Another sign that you are playing small is that you are not speaking up for yourself. This may mean that you are staying quiet in meetings or not expressing your opinions, even when you have something valuable to contribute. It may also mean that you are not setting boundaries with others and allowing them to take advantage of you.
Steps to Begin Living Authentically
If you recognize that you are making yourself smaller in order to make others feel more comfortable, there are steps that you can take to begin living authentically and stepping into your full power and potential.
Recognize your own worth
The first step is to recognize your own worth and value. You are deserving of respect and recognition, regardless of your gender or any other factor. It is important to remind yourself of this often and to surround yourself with people who support and uplift you.
Identify your internal stories
The next step is to identify your internal stories and beliefs that may be holding you back. Once you are aware of these stories, you can start to challenge them and replace them with more empowering beliefs. For example, if you believe that you are not capable of achieving your goals, you can start to challenge this belief by reminding yourself of times when you have succeeded in the past.
Setting boundaries is an important part of living authentically. It means being clear about your own needs and communicating them to others. This can be difficult if you are used to putting others’ needs before your own, but it is an important step in creating healthy relationships and living a fulfilling life.
Surround yourself with supportive people
Finally, it is important to surround yourself with people who support and uplift you. This may mean letting go of relationships that are toxic or draining, and seeking out people who share your values and beliefs. It may also mean seeking out a community of like-minded individuals who can provide support and encouragement as you step into your full power and potential.
Step Into Your Power
If you are ready to stop playing small and to step into your full power and potential, we invite you to join us for the Queen’s Royal Retreat in August in Chantilly Forest, France. This retreat is designed for women who are ready to embrace their inner queen and live authentically, without apology. Through workshops, activities, and a sisterhood of women on a similar journey, you will learn how to step into your full power and potential and live a life of purpose and fulfillment.
In conclusion, women have been conditioned to play small in order to make others feel more comfortable, but it is possible to break free from this pattern and live authentically. By recognizing your own worth, challenging your internal stories, setting boundaries, practicing self-care, and surrounding yourself with supportive people, you can step into your full power and potential and live a life without apology. Start living outrageously and authentically today, Queen!
- “Playing Big: Practical Wisdom for Women Who Want to Speak Up, Create, and Lead” by Tara Mohr
- “The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance—What Women Should Know” by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman