I recently went out for a quick dinner and ordered a burger. Medium.
When it arrived, I swear I could still here it mooing. It was most definitely not medium.
Naturally, I called the waiter and sent it back.
Well, naturally…I’m not 100% sure I would have sent it back years ago.
I might just as easily have eaten my way through food that wasn’t up to par just so I wouldn’t rock any boats. Or run the risk of having an entire room full of people stare at me.
Making myself smaller and invisible has been my default state for most of my life, so NOT doing that still requires my conscious attention at times.
Chances are making yourself smaller has been your default behavior for a long time, too.
And maybe it still is.
Let’s go over a couple of examples so you can check IF you make yourself smaller sometimes, so you can consciously change your behavior from now on:
Example #1: Literally making yourself smaller.
- You sit in the train. A man gets in and sits next to you. He automatically spreads out. You automatically slide into the corner to make space for him.
- You’re telling a story at a party / are talking in a meeting / or in any other setting where both men and women are together, and you get interrupted every few minutes by one or more men. (And eventually you just stop saying something about it.)
- You’re walking alone in the dark. There’s a shortcut to your home but it’s through an even darker park. What do you do? Walk through the park? Or not? And if you do, does it feel safe? Or are you constantly on edge, looking over your shoulder to make sure no one’s following you?
Any of these examples sound familiar? I bet they do.
And each of these examples sends a similar (subconscious) message:
No public space or domain is automatically as much for you as it is for others.
Do you sometimes literally make yourself smaller or more invisible?
If so, when does this happen and why?
Example #2: not asking for what you want.
Instead of focusing your attention on the ONLY thing YOU are responsible for (which is: being clear on what you want, and simply asking for it), you focus on the very thing you have zero responsibility for nor any power over: the other person’s response.
You worry about what they’ll think of you.
If they’ll be willing or able to give it to you.
How that will make them feel. If they will dislike you or think less of you because you ask for it. If it will ruin your relationship. And so on.
You look at it from all angles and sides and perspectives – besides your own, of course.
And you end up either not asking for what you want at all; toning down your request and ask for less than you want; OR you apologize for the incredible inconvenience of bothering them with this not so very important question and you hope they don’t mind and….you get the picture.
Do you always ask for what you want?
If not, why?
Example #3: Apologizing when there’s nothing to apologize for.
For simply asking a question.
For starting to talk at the same time as someone else.
For bumping into someone when clearly both of you weren’t paying attention where you walked.
Do you sometimes apologize for something that really doesn’t require an apology?
If so, when? And why?
Example #4: undercharging and over delivering.
Yep, this is an example of making yourself smaller, too.
You don’t own the value you deliver. You doubt if your service or product is worth what you’re asking for, so you keep your price low and give more than you’re actually willing to give.
Mind you, I’m not saying there is something wrong with giving more than people expect, or delivering more value than people actually paid for.
How you know the difference between one and the other?
Easy: you FEEL it.
When you feel unappreciated, unacknowledged, underpaid, undervalued and feel like you have to work way too hard for the money you make?
You’re giving too much and/or charging too little.
When you quietly resent your clients because you feel like they took something from you? Same story.
When you feel GOOD about what you give, and you enjoy adding more value to what you already shared? Don’t change a thing. You’re doing exactly what’s right for you.
Do you sometimes feel like you give too much or feel unappreciated or undervalued?
If so, how come?
Example #5: not speaking out or toning down your message.
I don’t have to add any examples here, do I?
You already know if you do this.
Unless…you censor yourself upfront, without being consciously aware that you’re doing it.
Possible signs you might be doing that:
- You find it very hard to come up with ideas for articles and newsletters;
- When you come up with an idea, you struggle with what to say or how to say it;
- It takes you forever to write something;
- You often have ideas for articles / your marketing / new programs / or any kind of exciting idea in general – but your enthusiasm always sizzles out quickly;
- When you read your own articles / sales pages / etc. they feel a bit…bland. Not exactly as you’d like them to be.
Any of this sound familiar? There’s a good chance your inner censor / inner critic is in charge of your writing / speaking / expressing yourself.
Do you sometimes make yourself smaller or invisible?
Notice when you do, and why.
DECIDE to show up more fully, and to take up your rightful space.
And take it one step at a time.
You’ll feel so liberated.
And it’s good for business, too!
© Brigitte van Tuijl
P.S.: Are you DONE making yourself smaller; toning down your message; feeling all these things inside of you that you want to express but …it still feels hard to be true to YOU sometimes?
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