• Monday, May 20, 2024
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How to overcome the need to shrink for others

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Yemisi is a highly talented and intelligent software engineer working at a cutting-edge tech company. Yemisi has a knack for solving complex problems, coming up with innovative solutions, and is often recognized for her technical prowess. However, she has noticed that her colleagues and superiors sometimes struggle to understand her ideas and find her intimidating due to her expertise. Out of a fear of not fitting in she found herself purposefully shrinking to belong by simplifying her explanations, downplaying her achievements, refraining from suggesting groundbreaking ideas or solutions, reducing her participation in technical discussions, and seeking approval rather than excellence. While these actions may initially help Yemisi fit in and be more accepted by her colleagues, they ultimately hinder her personal and professional growth. By “shrinking,” Yemisi risks stifling her potential, limiting her contributions to the company, and missing out on opportunities for advancement.

In a world where individuality and uniqueness should be celebrated, it is disheartening to acknowledge that too often you feel the need to shrink your skills, abilities, and personalities just to make someone else comfortable. Your behavior stems from your deep-seated desire to fit in, avoid conflict, or prevent others from feeling insecure in your presence. However, this self-imposed limitation comes at a great cost to you. Shed the burden of self-shrinking and unlock your true potential, foster healthier relationships, and empower those around you.

Conforming to societal norms and expectations is one of the primary reasons you are compelled to shrink yourself. You stifle who you really are when you choose not to challenge the status quo, blend in, and not show your uniqueness. Your fear of rejection or alienation often drives you to downplay your skills and abilities. You worry that expressing your full potential will result in isolation from your social and professional circles. Shrinking by withholding your opinions, ideas, and talents to keep the peace and prevent uncomfortable discussions or disagreements is a defense mechanism used to avoid conflict with others. This happens not only in the workplace but also in the home.

Read also: More women acquire tech skills for career growth

When you continuously choose to shrink before others, it hurts you! It erodes your self-esteem and will leave you feeling unfulfilled as you doubt your abilities and lose confidence in your own potential. You will miss out on so many opportunities for growth. You settle for mediocrity when you could be achieving greatness. Shrinking yourself might temporarily ease social and professional interactions, but it will lead to superficial relationships. If you want authentic relationships, they must be built on mutual respect and acceptance and not on hiding who you are. You can overcome downplaying yourself through:

Þ Self-Awareness: It is your first step towards overcoming this pattern. Recognize when you are shrinking and ask yourself why you are doing it. Understanding the root cause is essential.

Þ Value Your Uniqueness: It is a strength not a weakness. Celebrate your skills and abilities and contribute positively to the world.

Þ Effective Communication: Express your thoughts and ideas with confidence. Be considerate of others’ feelings. Find the right balance.

Þ Set Boundaries: Establish healthy boundaries that protect your well-being. It is okay to say no when your authenticity is threatened.

Understand if you are shrinking before others, when they “want” to see the full view of who you are. Know if you telling yourself a story that is a lie, for example, “They do not want me here.” and shrinking yourself over a lie? Know and act on truth and reality.

When you embrace your “full” potential, you experience a profound sense of fulfillment by discovering new aspects of yourself achieving goals you once thought were out of reach. You feel the joy of inspiring those around you to expand not shrink. Your confidence and authenticity motivate others to pursue their aspirations. Authenticity and deeper meaningful relationships will be your experience. People will be drawn to you who appreciate you for who you are.

Strive to break free from the chains of self-shrinking and empower yourself and those around you to shine brightly in uniqueness. Only then can you truly thrive. Find a balance between being authentic and communicating effectively with colleagues who may not share the same level of expertise or are inherently jealous of your capabilities. Or exit!