“Give yourself permission to live a big life. Step into who you are meant to be. Stop playing small. You’re meant for greater things.” – unknown
Once upon a time, there was a twenty-something year old woman. She was passionate, charismatic, and fun; she was independent, opinionated, and driven; she was hardworking and ambitious. She was excited and hopeful about all of the possibilities her future held and went after her goals, one by one. Others were drawn to her energy and passion, and as she worked hard to achieve her goals, inspiring others along the way. Without a doubt, she could be too much for some people, but she didn’t worry about them – they weren’t her people. In fact, she enjoyed being a contrary force and an independent thinker. She had a clear vision for her life, her career, her relationships, and went after it.
At the same time though, she privately battled against debilitating insecurities and automatic negative thoughts and beliefs about herself – she wasn’t “good enough”; “not worthy”; and “who did she think she was anyway” to want success or the life she desired. As she got “bigger”, her deep-rooted fears and beliefs became stronger, pulling her down to keep her in her “place”. Fortunately for her, her clear vision of her life and ambitious nature were strong enough to propel her forward despite those negative beliefs. She especially found her stride in her work and her career flourished.
Then, over time, she began the habit of shrinking and becoming less of who she was meant to be. Those powerful automatic negative habits of mind provided the ideal rationale and justification for her to begin not partaking in her life path. She compromised her dreams and plans to avoid confrontation so others would feel more comfortable. She put her gifts, innate needs, and desires behind the needs of others, not wanting to upset others or deal with the push back. She became a shadow of her true self.
This isn’t a unique story, especially for women. Women have been socially-conditioned to put the needs and desires of others ahead of their own. Once in a relationship, or when children come along, many women put their dreams, desires, and goals on the backburner, sacrificing their innate needs and desires in the “best interests” of the family, conforming (or contorting) into ideals of being the sacrificial wife and mother.
Such was the case with this woman. Not nurturing ourselves or living authentically can trigger our self-protection system, erode our self-esteem, and cause feelings of unhappiness and psychological distress. If you are someone who has felt like you’ve shrunk yourself to live life for the betterment of others, for the family, then you know how uncomfortable and confining it can be to live such a life. When we aren’t living as the best version of ourselves or living to our full potential, we are doing a disservice to ourselves and our loved ones.
So what do we do when we find ourselves in this situation? How do we go about trying to figure out who we are and what we want?
Here are the five steps in the SSPS* to activate yourself:
- Self-awareness. Learn about your personality, your strengths, weaknesses, likes, and dislikes. It helps to recognize when you are stressed and how your behaviour changes during such times.
- Current state analysis. Reflect on your current state and where your needs are being met, and where they aren’t being met.
- Imagine the life you what. Envision, or re-envision, your future state, your dreams and possibilities. Define what it looks and feels like.
- Identify your automatic negative habits of mind. Uncover your dysfunctional patterns of behaviour, and; your fears and underlying beliefs and assumptions.
- Create a strategy and plan. Identify actions and experiences of how you will move from your current state to your desired future state.
We’re all worthy of the amazing journey of finding our purpose, discovering our passions and, living our most fulfilling life. If you, like this woman, would like to start your journey back to finding yourself again and living more authentically, I’d love to help you. Start by completing the SSPS assessment by contacting me.
Now, it’s your turn.
Do you remember your twenty-something dreams? Have you shrunk yourself for “the betterment of others”? Are you currently living to your fullest potential? Share in the comments.
Photo by Pixabay from Pexels
5 thoughts on “The Incredible Shrinking Woman”
Love this Sue. It’s so true.
Thanks Marn 🙂 PS looking forward to checking out your new “she-shed”!
Wow, that really hits home for many of us! What a great, well-worded post Susan, loved it.
I appreciate your feedback Wendy! Yes, it’s a bit of a familiar story.