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Before we dig into this article, let me make a prediction. I’m not saying that I’m a fortune-teller. I’m just saying that I’m pretty sure I’m about to piss someone off.
See? I just offended AutoCorrect who is telling me that I should change that last sentence to “make someone angry”.
First of all, *insert eyeroll* If I wanted to say make someone angry, I would have said MAKE SOMEONE ANGRY. No, AutoCorrect. I MEANT to write “piss someone off”. (Oh, stop it. I’m not changing it.)
Okay, I’ve made my peace with AutoCorrect. Let’s move on. (But notice how I handled that because we’re going to come back to it later.)
You’re chatting with a friend (or your mother) and you suddenly realize that whenever you’re with this specific person, you feel the need to make yourself very small. You try to take up as little space as you can for fear of “offending” them. You agree with their opinions, even when you don’t agree. You let them talk, even when you know that they’re talking out of their ass.
It’s a crappy feeling. More than junk food, it’s bad for you. More than drinking too much wine on a Tuesday, it’s bad for you. More than smoking, it is BAD FOR YOU.
It’s bad for your self-esteem. It’s bad for your sense of self-worth. It’s bad for your self-confidence.
And the crazy thing about trying to make ourselves as small as we can is that often, we don’t even realize that we’re doing it. This is because we’re too busy doubting ourselves … asking ourselves the same question over and over again.
And that question is:
What is wrong with me?
Which is a cousin to that other question:
WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?!!
Actually, they’re the same question. The first version is a whisper and doesn’t show on the outside. The second version screams at you and shows in everything that you do. From deciding which brand of ketchup to buy, to wondering if you should use emojis in your work emails, self-doubt hijacks every decision you make.
By the way, you’re in luck. I have the answer to both versions of that question and here it is:
NOTHING. NOTHING IS WRONG WITH YOU. EXCEPT …
Okay, there is one thing wrong with you. You’re not owning your life. Instead, you are ACCOMODATING someone else’s life.
Here’s a psychological evaluation (note that I am not a psychologist, which is why I’m calling this an “evaluation”:
Odds are, the other person (the one that’s making you shrink until there’s hardly anything left of you), they are the one that feels small. In fact, they feel so small that they need to blow themselves up like a hot air balloon until all the corners in the room are filled with their puffy disposition. Sounds scary, but it’s really just a lot of hot air.
Saying how you feel or expressing yourself is never wrong. Holding back because you’re afraid that your feelings or opinions will offend someone is always wrong. In fact, if someone gets offended by your opinion (unless if you’re being an arrogant jerk), it’s their problem, not yours.
But how do you handle someone who is making you feel small?
I have the answer to that question too. (I should write a damn advice column.)
You handle them with compassion. You take your ability to be gentle, and you dip it in a firm stance until you have a nice soft centre surrounded by a confident, crunchy exterior. (Anyone else suddenly craving Oreo cookies? Just me? Never mind.)
Without emotion, you make your point, and you move on. Kind of like how I handled AutoCorrect above. Except with less eye-rolling. (Don’t judge me. I never said I was perfect.)
No matter whose company you’re in, be yourself. Own who you are.
As a former acting teacher used to say, “It’s not your business what other people think of you.”
And as I used to tell my kids when they were teenagers, “The only difference between a leader and a follower is confidence.”
State how you feel with confidence, and no one can argue with you or make you feel small.
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An award-winning humour blogger and the author of SUPERWOMAN: A Funny and Reflective Look at Single Motherhood (Cynren Press). Mona writes about everything from parenting to birds pooping on her car (on purpose!) to how much her kitchen hates her.
I feel this to my core. I am reading a book called “I Love Me More” and it says sorta the same things. Sadly in today’s political climate I am afraid to say anything which does make me feel small (or labeled a Karen). It’s sad.
I need this! Sadly, it’s my ‘need’ to make everyone around me as comfortable as possible that fuels this.
Between a rock and a hard place
My self is pretty darned nice. (I’d probably say naturally say, tee’d off.) I’ve had lots of training; probably more than nice. Nice is the cornerstone in almost every large family. And I like being nice. But… these days I feel it’s irresponsible to nod and smile when the other person is dead wrong. I decided that speaking up is actually the nice thing to do. I can say, “I hear you and I disagree;” “We have personal rights, AND we have a responsibility to others.” Etc., etc. etc.