I never thought of my life or the role I play in it as big or small. Such thoughts were not in my awareness. And yet in hindsight, I now realize my vision as a young adult was big. I sacrificed a lot to follow this vision, but that didn’t occur to me at the time; nothing was seen as a sacrifice as long as it helped to manifest my vision, and it was all done with a level of gusto.
An Early Vision as Reality
Enjoying a high profile and global career that took me around the world, I met very interesting people, whether well-known or not. My days were filled with hard work, long hours and excitement. I was so engulfed in this lifestyle that I didn’t realise much of the joy I was feeling had to do with living a vision that was very much informed by a certain conditioning and expectation of mine and those of society. Today I can see that there is a difference between the joy that stems from achieving outer goals and those which burst out from within.
When Life has other Plans
One summer day a few years ago I felt my life derail. I was hit, full force, with a diagnosis that threw me into an existential crisis. Although I had already abandoned my early vision of my life and replaced it with one of a more spiritual focus, I was suffering from physical as well as emotional pain.
I was stripped of everything: confidence, self-worth, self-belief, self-trust, and of any vision for myself and my life. Each day was about survival, overcoming fear and fighting my own thoughts and emotions. Not a day passed without a sense of depletion, and this scared me.
I could see that my attitude was leading me down a spiral of more pain, suffering and anxiety, yet I felt incapable of changing it.
What happened to that Spiritual Vision?
Having already been on a spiritual path for some time, I realised that I didn’t really give my spirituality much credit or importance. I kept it all rather low-key and quiet, even to myself. And whilst I seemed to have lost my vision during a time of crisis, in hindsight I can say that a new path opened up to me in entirely new and unexpected ways. Facing the fear that I was lost and in emotional pain and afraid of suffering and death, suddenly all my teachers and inner convictions became more real than ever before. Step by step, day after day, I crawled a little bit further out of the darkness and disillusion that I had started to accept as my new reality.
Soon, instead of being fearful of all that was descending on me and invading my peace, I started to get interested in my fears, my anxieties, my bodily reactions, and my mood swings. I realised that although I had read lots of books and attended many workshops, excelled in the corporate world, and had obtained a certain level in the spiritual sphere, I knew very little about myself.
It struck me that although I had been living with myself for several decades, we had not really even been properly introduced; my main goal, remained the same, regardless of my vision, to escape myself. It may seem a bit of an exaggeration, but with the aim to enjoy, and avoid whatever feels uncomfortable, how could anything ever change?
We play small in many different ways
Many insights were revealed to me during this phase, but one in particular stands out. I’d go as far as saying that it has transformed my life. Here we go:
If I refuse to accept parts of who I am, I am playing small.
We tend to think that we are our emotions and our thoughts. This is a collective belief system which most of us adhere to. We let ourselves be guided by (and to a large degree controlled by) others’ opinions and expectations. Most of us are not aware that we are followers of others rather than being guided by our inner compass and true self.
While we are busy living life, we easily oversee simple yet powerful ways to shift our life experience. We are not taught how to feel happy and fulfilled, truly and deeply. We don’t know what true self-care means.
The simple words “giving myself permission” hide another dimension of life. During my career I unconsciously gave myself permission to play big unbeknownst to myself, but when I went through my own very personal crisis, I was paralyzed. I couldn’t play at all. If anything, I chose to play small, not wanting to see all that I was.
This is not so strange. When in survival mode, it is common to first fall deeper into our base conditioning. It’s a familiar space and we see it as an anchor. Even suffering is preferable to the idea of no longer existing, of death or letting go of any other belief we hold.
Of course, people can give you advice but ultimately only you can give yourself permission to do what is right for you. It takes courage to befriend oneself and to listen within, rather than keep running away. Not everything which comes to the surface of our consciousness is amicable. Often, the contrary is true. But perhaps real joy and happiness don’t come about from what can be seen as a perfectly successful and organised life but from being ok within ourselves. I now give myself permission to be honest with my feelings and emotions. I am my best friend, and we have fun together as we learn more about each other and trust each other.
Three words: Don’t play small!
Giving myself permission to explore and get to know myself intimately, even aspects I did not initially want to accept, was a gift to myself. It was a scary one but only by allowing myself to finally take centre stage in my life did I start to really take responsibility for my actions, big or small.
Accepting them was the only way to heal my wounds and access who I truly am, and that can not be defined as big or small. I am all that is, and I am nothing at all. Three small words became my mantra at a time of crisis:
Don’t play small!
In fact, don’t play at all… BE!
Love & Gratitude,
Claudia’s contemplation about life can be sent directly into your inbox. If you wish to receive regular Soul Snippets, send a message HERE.
While on a business trip to India and three questions later by a total stranger Claudia started to question her life. She eventually left a high-profile global career in luxury hospitality but found that ’being nobody’ was painful. She fell into darkness. The emotional and physical pain awakened her to the calling of her soul. Her life transformed.
Claudia is a spiritual mentor allowing others to go on a journey of self-discovery. She offers time to pause and to experience spacious stillness to connect within.
She is also the author of two books, a speaker, Gong master and a Quantum Energy Coach. You find Claudia in different parts of the world running transformational retreats.