A 3-part series, with my own personal stories of how I minimized my strengths and gave away my power.
I hear it almost daily from clients, friends, and even myself:
“I’m clear on what I want, but I keep getting in my own way. How do I stop the self-sabotage?”
“I don’t know how I feel. I’m just confused.”
“I’m not sure what I want.”
The confusion, lack of clarity, and self-sabotage all stem from the fact that we have been trained to minimize our emotions, thoughts, and even our strengths and talents.
We’ve shut ourselves down for so long, in so many ways, when we try to connect with what’s good and true, we’re just out of practice — and disconnected. And it’s hurting our ability to create the lives we want.
Minimization—downplaying the severity or impact of an event or emotion—is a common way people try to deal with feelings of guilt, rather than taking responsibility for true emotions, either in themselves or others. Minimization is a psychological construct, a type of deception (AKA lie) involving denial tied up with rationalisation.
I have three personal stories that I don’t usually share in public, that are perfect examples of how I have minimized my truth in the past, so as to make other people right, so I could stay connected to them. I’ll share one of these stories in each part of this series.
If you’re not sure how minimization might show up in your life, ask yourself this:
Do you ever find yourself saying or thinking these thoughts?
“Yeah, that sucked, but what can you do?”
“Whatever, it’s not a big deal.”
“That’s just how relationships are – people treat each other like that.
“Other people have it a lot worse. What right do I have to complain?”
Or were you ever told:
“You’re too ____” (too much, too sensitive, too fat, too skinny, too loud, too shy)
The world tells us we aren’t acceptable as we are, and so we begin the lifelong process of trying to be different than we are.
Some of your earliest memories may actually be of events when you felt minimized. Those minimized experiences, if not expressed, seen, and validated, get stuck in our bodies and create a ripple of harmful habits throughout our lives.
MY STORY OF HOW I FIRST MINIMIZED MYSELF FOR MY MOM:
My mother was an artist. It’s how she defined herself, and how she related to the world. She painted, sculpted, designed landscapes, took photographs, and life was really her canvas.
But her identification as an artist sometimes turned rageful. When I was 8 or 9, mom sewed me a pair of adorable pink overalls. They even had my name embroidered across the chest in rainbow thread.
I loved them, and because it was summer and hot outside, I decided to cut the legs off and turn them into overall shorts.
When mom saw what I had done to her creation, she flew into a rage. She yelled at me with such energy, I was truly scared that she might throw something at me.
I made a decision right then and there: Mom is the artist, not me. My ideas can’t be trusted, and might even be hurtful to others.
I minimized my creative energy and ideas, and from then on only pursued outlets that mom didn’t claim as her own:
Mom painted with oils, so I only took watercolor classes, which she hated working with.
Mom did photography, so I got into writing.
Mom called herself an artist, so I didn’t.
I can see now how I minimized my artistic creativity in order to make our relationship more comfortable.
I minimized my true self, and it has often squashed my ability to feel whole, and stopped me from feeling my worth. It also kept a wall between me and my mother, which is a special kind of sadness.
Looking back now, doing the real work of healing my relationship with strength, identity, and my mother, I see that I am in the driver’s seat:
Once you see how you’ve minimized yourself, you now have control, a choice, and the responsibility to heal. Yes, another person may have colluded with you to take part in your minimization, but ultimately, it’s up to you to move strongly forward to maximize your personal power. That’s what I’m here to do.
By minimizing our feelings, past traumas, and the effect stress has on us, we are unintentionally causing other problems in our lives that we struggle with daily:
- An inability to lose weight
- Adrenal and thyroid problems
- Emotional eating
- We flatten ourselves energetically in order to hide in plain sight
In this series, I’ll be sharing one aspect of minimization, and asking you to dive deeper into the work and your experiences with exercises called Power Moves. The ultimate goal of this series is to reconnect you with, and help you feel comfortable claiming, your personal power.
Minimize Me Power Move #1:
- Write out 5 ways you have minimized yourself at any point in your life.
- For each of the 5 examples, write out how it may have affected your life, strength, or ability to move powerfully in the world.
- Finally, for each of the 5 examples, rewrite your story:
For example, I now call myself a creative professional, and reclaim my own artistic energy.
Another example: You were told to be quiet as a kid, because “nice girls are polite.” It could be that you used to keep quiet in meetings because of that early minimization. Now you can rewrite that story as: I now make one suggestion or state one opinion in each meeting I attend.
Try it on. Write it out. Feel into it. Then act.
In the next piece of this series, we’ll talk about the pain and body/food issues that arise when we minimize ourselves.
My mission with this writing and coaching is to help you feel safe in your body, confident in your ideas, and curious about how to step more fully into your power.