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Inside Soul-Searching

Why Playing Small Does not Serve the World

[dropcap]D[/dropcap]o you ever feel embarrassed when someone pays you a compliment? Perhaps the response “Oh no I’m not *that* good (insert name of talented friend) is much better than me” trips all too readily off the tongue. Or maybe your in-built modesty forces you to reply with “Well I’ve got a long way to go but I’m trying”.

I’m not sure whether it’s because we are terribly British or due to a crippling fear of arrogance, but I am certain I’m not the only one who shrinks back when compliments come my way. A short while ago, I came across a snippet from Marianne Williamson’s bestselling self-help book ‘A Return to Love‘ and it stopped me in my tracks…

“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?

You are a child of God. 

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. 

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 other.” 

So what is it that stops us from showing up, from trying our hardest, from using our God-given talents to suggest that we might possibly be good at something? This extract explains so brilliantly all of the things which stop me from being fully who I am created to be:

  • fear of looking like a ‘show off’
  • not wanting others to feel inadequate
  • fear of failure – what if I ‘come out’ and then I’m not that good?
  • knowing that there are others out there who are better than me.

You get the picture.

When I first started writing, I didn’t want to tell anyone about it; I didn’t even tell my husband I had started a blog until I was one week in! I have pondered for so long as to why I squirm with embarrassment when someone suddenly announces that they read my blog. Is it because I don’t like them knowing my business? Well if it is, then a blog probably isn’t a good hobby for me! I know now that it is all of the reasons above that were at the root of my hiding and it’s something that I still struggle with.

Marianne’s words remind me to stand tall, that for many reasons the world is missing out if I let comparison, inadequacy, embarrassment or fear, win. Actually by putting myself out there with confidence, I am encouraging others to stand tall too.

Quite enlightening isn’t it?

I think that I need to read this every day until it sinks in. Maybe you do too. Are you shrinking back when you should be shining? We all have a purpose, something to offer the world and in case you were wondering…it is our time to shine.

shine bright like a diamond

Hot Pink Wellingtons
Inside, Outside & Beyond




  • Plutonium Sox

    Oh I just love your blog Suzanne. You always manage to make me think. I need to read this post every day, it’s so true.

  • daydreams of a mum

    This is really relatable for me. It’s silly as I encourage the kids to ‘dream huge’ and not to hide their talents. I don’t take my own advice though !!! Brilliant post!

    • Suzanne W

      Exactly! I do that too but we really need to start practicing what we preach – kids learn by example. Probably too late for mine!

  • Jem

    I remember reading something several years ago about how women in particular are generally bad at accepting compliments, and how we often deflect them instead of accepting them, and how in a way it’s quite rude because we’re telling the person paying the compliment that a) they’re wrong and b) how they should/shouldn’t think about us.

    I don’t know if “rude”, is the right word, but it certainly made me think about how I accept that, and I have gradually & slowly started to learn how to come to terms with a compliment. Sometimes I might say “yes, I actually am great at X” and sometimes I don’t feel like – but a simple thank you will do. What’s the worst that can happen by saying thank you?

    You’re so right. It is our time to shine.

    • Jem

      Got a bit over-excited with some of my commas in that, sorry 😉

    • Suzanne W

      Totally get what you’re saying. It’s kind of suggesting that the other person is wrong, even if that’s not where are attitude is coming from. We need to rise up and stopping robbing the world of what we have to offer!

  • natalie

    Beautiful post – I am the same I struggle to take a compliment, I hate anyone mentioning my blog I just freeze up even if its my Mum mentioning it. I always heard people day that you get more confident with age but I feel like I am getting worse!!! I need to print this out and read it every single day in the hope one day I will start to believe it!!

    • Suzanne W

      I don’t like anyone at all mentioning my blog either. I’ve spent so long wondering why and trying to get better at it but I think I just need to hold my head up and decide to be more confident. What do you say?

  • Laura's Lovely Blog

    Really thoughtful, I too cringe when people mention they read my blog – goodness knows why, surely that’s the point? And I’m terrible at taking compliments, I think I need to take your advice!

  • Love this! What an enlightening idea. I think we all struggle with taking compliments and saying we’re good at something, but we’re all special in our own way and we all have something to offer. I don’t mind saying that I’m ‘quite good’ at running because that doesn’t feel like showing off in the way it would do if I said I was really good at writing or cooking or really beautiful (for the record I don’t think I am any of these things!).

    • Suzanne W

      Isn’t it funny how we constantly praise our children but we aren’t good at receiving compliments ourselves? Not the best example! I rarely say I’m good at anything to be honest. Need to get better at that!

  • Mama Grace

    They are great words aren’t they? Shine #Sharingthebloglove

  • Lucy At Home

    LOVE this post so much! I am 15mths into blogging – I’ve got regular readers, I do brand work, I’ve even launched my own t-shirt shop this week, and yet my husband is my only “real life” contact who knows that I blog! There are other factors that have contributed to that too but a big part of it is feeling worried about what people will think of me and if they’ll think I’m showing off. The quote from the book is just so beautiful. As a christian myself, the words about manifesting God’s glory really spoke to me #sharingthebloglove

    • Suzanne W

      Thanks for such a lovely comment and I’m glad I’m not alone in this. We need to work together on it if only to be a good example to our children. I also think that we are insulting God in a way if we don’t admit when we are good at something or step into the gifts he has given us. We are his children after all! Well done on starting a new business – great stuff ??

  • These are wonderful, wise words! Like you, I was too shy and embarrassed to tell anyone I knew in real life I had a blog for ages! When I did share it, the response was so positive and heartening I wondered why I’d waited so long! Thank you for this reminder that we all need to let the light within shine! Visiting from #sharingthebloglove and following you now 😉

  • Rachel In Real Life

    One of the last things my last sponsor asked me to do was to write a list of all of my good characteristics and attributes. And I really struggled. She then asked me how I feel when my son is down on himself, how do I feel as a parent and, as a Christian, then asked me to reflect on how God must feel if I am so down on myself and my own abilities that He has given to me. A lot of it is rooted in fear, I know that and logically I know the best way to lessen those fears (of judgement, of failure, of being seen to be arrogant) is to bask in God’s love but putting that into practice isn’t always that easy. Great post and food for thought. x

  • Tooting Mama

    I struggle to take a compliment, same as you about the blog, (by the way your’s is awesome) I find it hard to believe people like it. Self-belief is hard to attain, something I struggle with.

    But I will stand tall with you! #sharingthebloglove

  • This is me! I take a compliment at all and it drives my husband mad, I just tell him to stop and he doesn’t get it. As for my blog I completely freeze if anyone starts talking about it, I find it so embarrassing and I’m not sure why. I really need to read this everyday and overcome it. My eldest daughter loves a compliment and I wonder at what point we change. Thank you for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove and it was lovely to meet you last week x

  • five little doves

    Oh I LOVE this! I struggle massively with compliments and usually will say something negative about myself in response which is ridiculous really, I just find it very hard. This is so inspirational and thought provoking! Thank you for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove

  • That’s a really thoughtful post – and actually I like the sound of this book. Maybe I need to get it! #SharingtheBlogLove

    • Suzanne W

      Yes I haven’t read the book but agree it sounds like a good one. Thanks for reading and commenting 🙂

  • Tubbs

    I’m terrible at receiving complements but agree, it would be better to be able to receive them graciously and be able to acknowledge that yes, I am good at some stuff. It really is weird, but I’m happy to stand with you. Near the back 😉

  • Helena

    Two thoughts
    I once heard that you should accept a compliment as if it were a gift.
    We all have a part to play in this world too. #SharingtheBlogLove

  • I am really shy and hate putting myself forward for fear of criticism which is why I like hiding in my blog! #sharingthebloglove

  • Love this post, it’s so true, I don’t think I know anyone who takes a compliment well when they really should, myself included, and that’s really sad. We definitely all deserve to shine x

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