Tara Sophia Mohr | Playing Big

Tara Sophia Mohr, Playing Big. Find Your VOICE, Your MISSION, and Your MESSAGE.

avoiding what you most love

Fearlessness Blog Graphic

The lights in the room go down. I’m up on stage. I can’t see many faces or eyes in the audience, but I can feel the crowd, completely. I speak from the heart, and lose my sense of time, of space and of me. Magic happens.

I sit down at the computer to write. I wade through the icky first few moments and eventually, the work draws me in. A couple hours later, I pick up my head, notice the time, and feel completely uplifted by the journey that writing has taken me on.

For me, writing and speaking are the vessels that carry me to that special state called flow, the state when we lose track of time, when we fall into a gorgeous forgetting of ourselves and become completely merged with what we’re doing.

For you, it’s probably some other activities. Maybe running or gardening or counseling or crunching numbers. We’ve all been given a few vessels that take us into that special state called flow.

What I want to talk about today – with great compassion – is why we so often end up not doing the things that bring us into that wonderful state of flow, even though flow brings us so much joy, and so much respite from our day-to-day malaises.

There are the usual reasons: Fear of being bad at the activity. Past wounds from that teacher or supposed mentor who made us feel like we just weren’t cut out to do the thing. Lack of time. Thinking we’re too old or too young, or, or, or…

Yes, all that. But there is a deeper reason we resist and then often simply don’t do the things that bring us into flow.

It’s because flow threatens ego.

The ego is a part of us that sees ourselves as a distinct, separate self. It’s invested in you seeing yourself as a self – you know, the kind with a name, a height, a weight, a resumé or LinkedIn profile, a relationship history, and so on. It generally feels quite threatened (because indeed an alone, separate self is not very safe), and therefore spends most of its energy trying to defend itself or avoid dangers one way or another. It never sees you the other way – a stitch in a wondrous fabric, a ray in a sun, a drop in an ocean. It knows the bounded you, not the connected one.

The ego does not like it when we go into flow state because flow state is about the disappearing of the boundaries of self.

The boundary that disappears for you when you are in flow might be one between you and other human beings.

The boundary that disappears might be the boundary between you and nature, as you hike on a trail or swim in the ocean.

The boundary that disappears might be the boundary between you and your material, as you sand the wood, or move the needle through the yarn, or place the bead on the wire.

The boundary that disappears might be the boundary between you and Inspiration, as something else writes the essay for you, or the right thing to say in the meeting simply comes out of your mouth.

Flow undermines the illusion of the separate self.

Ego doesn’t only feel threatened by failure or emotional exposure. It also feels threatened by anything that helps us transcend our egoic self.

A few weeks ago, I heard someone say something intriguing: “I’m afraid that if I start meditating more, I’ll somehow lose my edge.”

It’s an interesting phrase, “losing your edge.” Sometimes, those words are used to connote losing a competitive edge. Sometimes, it has to do more with losing a kind of mental sharpness, or hunger for achievement.

I can’t help but think about it differently. When I heard, “If I meditate more, I might lose my edge,” the edge I thought of was the edge of the self.

As much as we individually long to lose our edges, and as much as our world needs us to do so in order that we collaborate to survive, another part of us fears that loss.

So today’s note is, first and foremost, a loving reminder to you that there are things in your life that bring you into flow. Because we forget. Those activities are gifts to you from life and from the divine. They deserve your time, and they will repay you manifold if you give it to them.

Today’s note is also a reminder that you will likely avoid doing those things that bring you into flow, and the reason is that your ego does not want to lose the battle of how you view yourself – small or large, bounded or connected.

And today’s note is an encouragement to find a way to go into flow anyway, to dip into its well, and let it remind you of the vastness that is here, already in you, and ever waiting to connect to you.



sharing a personal story today

Today I’m sharing a personal story. It’s a little tender. It’s important to me. It’s a story I wanted to share.

It’s about a friend I love dearly and an experience that taught me so much.

You can read the essay at HuffingtonPost/OWN, HERE.



Recent Faves + Free Workshop for You

Good Morning!

I’m filled up after a weekend at the Emerging Women conference, where I heard so many inspiring women speak what they know to be true. I’ll be sharing some of my favorite ideas and learnings with you in the weeks to come.

Today I want to share with you a few of my other favorite things I’ve taken in lately, and I also want to invite you to a free, online workshop I’m offering this week.

So first, the recent favorite things I loved so much I simply can’t not share them with you:

Photo of Mary Catherine Bateson by Tom Starkweather/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Photo of Mary Catherine Bateson by Tom Starkweather/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

On Being podcast interview with anthropologist and wise woman Mary Catherine Bateson. Beautiful. Revolutionary. Healing. Listen to this woman!!

On Being podcast interview with pioneering social psychologist Ellen Langer. Inspiring. Provocative. Validating. Listen to this woman, too!

And, for the teen in your life – especially if that teen is searching, struggling with cliques or body image issues, or simply could love themselves and their lives more, the book FLAWD: How to Stop Hating on Yourself, Others, and the Things That Make You Who You Are by Emily-Anne Rigal, Barnard College student and founder WeStopHate.org.

. . . . . . . . .

What Works & Why: A Free Workshop on Supporting Women to Play Bigger from the Inside Out

Today I also want to invite you to a free workshop about the Playing Big model and my upcoming Facilitators Training.

I know many of you are new here, so let me start from the beginning about what this is.

For many years, I coached one brilliant woman after another who was, in one way or another, being held back by fear and self-doubt.

I wanted to live in a world shaped and changed and run by these brilliant women.

I wanted them to feel the joy (and have the success) of living out their brilliance.

And, I knew I was just like them. I was tired of being run by fear and self-doubt, too.

I started to experiment with tools and ideas from psychology, contemplative spiritual traditions, coaching, and business to see what would truly enable these brilliant women to play bigger.

The patterns of what worked to help them were clear, consistent, and, given the conventional ways we think about women’s lives and careers, very surprising.

What I learned became a toolkit, an arc, for personal change and professional expansion. It became the Playing Big model that I teach and write about .

I teach a course called the Playing Big Facilitators Training for women who want to play bigger in their own lives and careers, and help the women they mentor, manage, parent, coach or otherwise serve to do the same.

This Wednesday I’ll be giving a free workshop that can help you get a feel for what the training is like. When you sign up, you can choose to attend live OR receive the recording.

IF you are curious, and think this course may be for you, please sign up to join us for the free workshop HERE!

That’s it!

Thanks, as always, for reading and being on this journey with me.



You are Invited: The Playing Big Facilitators Training


For a while now, I’ve noticed a theme showing up again and again in the conversations I have with women.

Some are coaches or therapists, and feel particularly called to use the vehicle or their coaching or therapy practice to help women live more empowered, fulfilling, and yes – even revolutionary – lives.

Others are managers or leaders working inside organizations. They’ve discovered that they’re most inspired and happy at work when they are developing the people around them, and seeing them grow.

Others work in health or wellness, and are looking to bring more emotional, relational and even spiritual tools for personal change to their work so that it can have a greater impact.

Still others work in academia or education, and spend much of their time mentoring and advising students. They are looking for better tools to do this – so that they can truly support the younger people in front of them, in the ways they wish they themselves had been supported.

I see myself as a part of a shared tribe with all of these women – women who come alive when they can help others fulfill more of their potential. Women who have a particular calling to help other women create more thrilling, resonant lives and careers because they know that is going to change the world for the much better.

These women aren’t only passionate about helping others play bigger – they’ve got their own longings to play bigger within, but often they haven’t quite found the way to line up those longings with swift and bold action. Often, the people around them may not totally understand or be able to help with their playing bigger dreams (that’s totally normal!), and a separate-from-their-day-to-day life, and supportive community can really help.

It’s this community of women that have been coming together for the Playing Big Facilitators Training. It’s a six-month journey of growth and learning. You’ll learn the powerful Playing Big model and toolkit that I developed out of my own work with women that’s now helped thousands of women play bigger – on their own terms.

This training is for both your own playing bigger and to enhance the work that you do with others – coaching, counseling, managing or mentoring.

Registration for our next session opens today. You can learn all about it HERE.

With gratitude –


over at goop & Harvard Business Review

Good morning!

I’m in New York this week – one of my favorite places in the world. It’s always so good to be here, especially in the Fall, and especially this time around when I get to show it to a toddler who is very excited about all the action here.

I wanted to share with you…

This new article over at goop on How to Negotiate, written by myself and attorney, negotiation expert & Playing Big guest teacher Carrie Gallant. We share our personal stories – how we each have completely abandoned ourselves in negotiation situations in the past – and how we (thank goodness!) are learning to stop doing that. And we share our perspectives on all kinds of questions that come up for women around negotiating.

I believe we all negotiate in one way or another, every day. I also believe that for women especially, each negotiation conversation ends up being a definitively disempowering experience or a healing and empowering one. Each negotiation will either teach us a negative lesson about our needs and life’s ability to meet them, or a positive lesson about that. So let’s create the right story for ourselves. You can check out that article here.

The second article I want to share with you I’m also so excited about. It’s a piece I wrote for Harvard Business Review, about how to respond to the self-doubt or inner critic voice when you encounter it in others. This is relevant, of course, for coaches and therapists, but also for any of us who manage, teach, or mentor – because we all come up against the voice of self-doubt in the people we aim to support. It’s one of the biggest barriers to our teams performing at their best, to our mentees reaching their potential. And of course, we all also want to respond wisely, and constructively when we hear the harsh self-criticisms or insecurities in our partners, children, and other loved ones. We often think the answer is to encourage or compliment in response – but there’s a more powerful, helpful way to respond. Check out that article here.

With gratitude,