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Are You Playing Too Small?

By Dr. Margaret Paul
April 28, 2014

Are you limiting your life – allowing fear to stop you from doing what brings you joy?

"There is no passion to be found playing small - in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living." ~Nelson Mandela

Do you feel passionate about your life? If not, you are likely playing too small – opting for safety rather than for the aliveness that comes from fully manifesting your gifts and talents.

We have all been given unique gifts and talents. Some indigenous people know this and choose not to name their children until their unique talents emerge. For example, they might name their child "Basketweaver" or "Listener" or "Healer" when these talents emerge. They fully believe in encouraging the child's natural gifts and talents.

For some strange reason, many of my clients believe that if something comes easily to them – if it is a natural talent – then it's not what they should pursue. They believe that for something to be worthwhile, it has to be hard. Yet this is exactly the opposite of the truth! That which comes easy to you is your natural gift or talent, and it is likely what brings you the most joy.

My client, Skip, started working with me due to depression. He was a successful dentist with a lovely wife and three children whom he adored, but still, he was depressed.

As we explored what was going on in his life, he told me that he became a dentist because his father was a dentist and his father wanted him to take over his very lucrative practice. But Skip did not enjoy dentistry like his father did. He never felt passionate about his work. It soon became evident that his depression was related to not doing what he really wanted to do.

Skip knew early in his life that he had two passions: psychology and writing poetry. He had been writing poetry since he was child and had even published a small poetry book, which had received some acclaim and which brought him great joy.

He had always been interested in psychology, and had read extensively in this field. But his father had convinced him that he could not earn enough as a psychologist and a poet to support a family, and that he had to think of others rather than himself.

Now, with a wife and three children, he felt trapped doing something for the rest of his life that brought him no joy. He dragged himself to work each day, and lived for the few hours when he had time to write poetry, as well as to spend time with his family.

When Skip realized that he couldn't be a good husband and father being so depressed, he decided to make a huge life change. With the support of his wife, he cut his dental practice in half and went back to school to become a psychologist. And he started making more time for writing – both poetry and fiction.

As it turned out, Skip is an amazing writer and storyteller. His first book of fiction was published and did well. He is currently working on his second novel and finishing his PhD is psychology. With the income from his book, he is able to continue to support his family with his half-time dental practice. Because he is doing what brings him joy and manifesting his gifts and talents, he is also enjoying dentistry much more. He plans to continue his half-time dental practice, establish a small psychology practice, and continue writing. Somehow, he has also found more time to be with his family.

Skip is being as big as he really is and is no longer depressed! By following his passions, he has renewed energy and aliveness for his life and finds that he has time to do all that brings him joy.


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