6 Questions That Help You Discover if You’re Secretly Shrinking Yourself

Definition of Shrink: become or make smaller in size or amount; contract or cause to contract.

The “shrinking”mindset that used to run my life developed when I was a child growing up inBrooklyn in the 1980’s. I heard:

“Lajuana you talk too much.”

“You’re always talking and saying something.”

“Lajuana, why don’t you just be quiet?”

I was a child who was extremely curious about life. I asked more questions than the adults in my life were prepared to answer at that time.

To escape the criticism of my family I made up stories with my friends about traveling to distant places. My friends would ask for my stories often. They said that my stories made them feel happy.

Somehow along the way, the adult’s criticisms drowned out my passion for speaking and creativity. As I got older, I noticed that I wouldn’t say how I really felt about something when it involved other people. I held myself back to make people around me feel “comfortable”. Maybe some of you can relate to this. I suppressed my thoughts and feelings at work because I didn’t want anyone in my office would think that I was trying to be a  “shiny star.”

This fear of being a “shiny star” also affected my friendships, romantic relationships and family life. Many people in my life over the years and even now don’t like people who are “shiny.” Many people are more comfortable around me when I shrink myself.

Once my 5 year relationship with my best friend ended, I took some time to truly analyze my behavior in the friendship. Man did I keep myself small during the majority of that friendship! Neither of us were able to be fully authentic. It was then that I made a commitment to stop shrinking myself.

The price I paid for not being true to myself was very steep. Does this apply to your life in any way?

Here are some questions you can ask yourself to see if you’re secretly shrinking yourself:

  1. Are you being your most authentic self from moment-to-moment no matter who’s around you?

  2. Where are you not being authentic in your life?

  3. When are you making yourself smaller to please other people?

  4. What are your reasons for doing it?

  5. What does it cost you?

  6. How does it benefit you?

For me, on the surface it was about making people comfortable but really, it was about me wanting to hold on to them. I’ve always had the feeling that – if I spoke up, shined too brightly, or said what I really felt – people would leave me.

The shrinking mindset that I developed over the years was a pattern. Once I realized that it was a pattern, I would beat myself up with a mental loop of questions drove myself crazy. This would go on for months. The replaying of the past mentally drained me. And then I said “I am done with this!” I am a human being who has made some mistakes and it’s ok. It doesn’t matter how long it has taken me to reach that realization. The point is I see the truth of who I am. I got the lesson. The lesson was to not shrink myself for anyone and to stand in my truth no matter what.

Shrinking yourself destroys you:

  • It chips away at your creativity, happiness, and peace of mind.

  • It makes you question your place in the world.

  • You never feel “good enough”.

There were a few things that helped me to shift out of the shrinking mindset.

  1. ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: I admitted to myself that I made myself small. Then I practiced noticed when I was shrinking myself.

  2. SPEAKING MY TRUTH: I practiced speaking my truth.

  3. SELF-COMPASSION: I stopped beating myself up. Having compassion for myself allowed me to become clear about who I was and what I wanted. There was no way that I could have known that I was shrinking myself for all those years. I was raised in a household where I was taught to shrink my voice. To been seen and not heard. There was never a time when I heard anyone say “take it easy, forgive yourself”. I wasn’t introduced to the term forgiving yourself and self-compassion until my late 20’s. It’s never too late to change no matter your age or circumstances.

When you have compassion for yourself it allows you to embrace your humanity and the truth of who you are. It’s more than ok to admit that you’re a fallible person who is learning. That’s what I had to do in order to heal. Get to a place where you can say that you love and forgive yourself flaws and all. The greatest thing about self-compassion it is like a beautiful tree that produces the most amazing fruit. Once you give it to yourself you can give it to others.

Author:  Lajuana Radcliffe is a Fearless Living Coach and a member of the Radical Healers Network. She will be co-facilitating a mother’ support group and self-care retreat for women in the Fall roster of Radical Wellness Programs.

If you’re a mother who’s stressed out and tired of kids who don’t listen, learn more about our upcoming mother’s group: MOMMY TIME.  To learn more about the group, attend a free event this Saturday, where you’ll learn some stress relief tools and simple tips for improving your health. Join us for this free event here:

STRESSED OUT? Renew Your Energy


SATSEPT 17TH, 2016 • 1-3PM

Randolph Houses - 202-246 West 114th Street

(between Adam Clayton Powell Blvd. & Frederick Douglass Blvd.)

Learn how to:

  • Make one simple change to how you eat that will give you more energy

  • Reduce the stress of raising kids in New York City

  • Use a  gentle and powerful tool to get rid of stress

  • Get rid of one thing you’re secretly afraid of that’s holding you back

REGISTER at 646.597.0046 or bit.ly/radicalwellnessday2016

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