Are you shrinking to take up less space in the world?
I am a passive person – in fact, when it comes to inevitable confrontations, I become passive-aggressive at best.
Throughout my life experiences, I believe my passive nature was reinforced by the perception that I was avoiding unpleasant experiences by shrinking down to meet someone else’s demanding needs.
Growing up, my mother always shared her problems with me from an early age. Witnessing the dysfunction she was experiencing made me want to avoid causing any drama or stress for her. I have a family full of alcoholics and over the years I have been exposed to patterns of heightened stress and emotional instability, further reinforcing the idea that if I become small I will cause no more disturbances.
What does shrinkage do for our personal sanity? Am I able to defend myself? Am I able to express myself openly?
We don’t have to shout, we just have to take up space.
A natural response to a lifetime of shrinking is precisely NOT to express myself.
In fact, it’s the act of not expressing yourself that I’m really referring to here when I say “shrink”. I’m talking about shrinking your feelings into a little box that you can bury deep behind childhood memories of days gone by – probably the very ones that sparked the shrinking behavior in the first place.
I’m talking about the tendency to listen to another’s suggestion, not because you want to, but to keep the peace. I’m talking about the habit of never saying the first thing that comes to mind, but rather filtering every thought you have before you speak, analyzing each of its curves and crevices.
The constant shrinking is exhausting. It is unsatisfactory. And the worst part is that it may not even succeed in preventing the negative results that our mind convinces us to have been avoided by the act.
What would happen if I asserted my feelings in the world? What am I afraid is going to happen? If you’re a regular shrinker like me, how can we become a safe space for other shrinkers to openly release their buried boxes?
We need to recognize this tendency and work to become intentional about loudly existing in this world. We don’t need to shout, we just need to take up space.
I believe that those around us, those who have seen us diminish more and more, will benefit from the privilege of seeing us flourish. This is how we will become a source of inspiration for those around us to flourish.