Claim your place, take up space

Do you shrink yourself to take up less space in the world?

I am a passive person – in fact when it comes to unavoidable confrontations, I become passive-aggressive at most.

Throughout my experiences in life I believe my passive nature has been reinforced by the perception that I avoided unpleasant experiences by shrinking myself to fit the demanding needs of someone else.

Growing up, my mother was consistent in sharing her problems with me from a young age. Witnessing the dysfunction she was experiencing resulted in me wanting to avoid being the cause of any drama or stress to her. I have a family filled with alcoholics and through the years I have been exposed to patterns of heightened tensions and emotional instability, further reinforcing the idea that if I become small I won’t cause any more disruption.

What does shrinking do for our personal mental health? Am I able to advocate for myself? Am I able to express myself openly?

We don’t have to yell, we just have to take up space.

— Sierra Ball

A natural response to a lifetime of shrinking is precisely NOT to express myself.

In fact, it is the act of not expressing oneself that I am truly referring to here when I say “shrinking.” I am talking about shrinking your feelings into a small box that you can bury down deep behind the childhood memories of old – probably the very ones that elicited the shrinking behavior in the first place.

I am talking about the tendency to listen to the suggestion of another, not because you want to, but to keep the peace. I am talking about the habit of never saying the first thing that comes to your mind, but instead filtering every single thought you have before speaking, analyzing its every curve and crevice.

The constant shrinking is exhausting. It’s unfulfilling. And the worst part, it may not even be successful in preventing the negative outcomes our minds convince us are sure to have been avoided by the act.

What would happen if I asserted my feelings into the world? What am I afraid would happen? If you are a habitual shrinker like me, how can we become a safe space for other shrinkers to openly release their buried boxes?

We must recognize this tendency and work toward becoming intentional about existing loudly in this world. We don’t have to yell, we just have to take up space.

I believe those around us, those who have seen us shrink smaller and smaller, will benefit from the privilege of witnessing us blossom. That is the very way we will become an inspiration for those around us to blossom.

Happy Blooming.