I've spent the majority of my life trying to make myself appear smaller. I was an early bloomer, and I shot up in height way before most kids my age. I towered over the other girls and most of the boys in my class. In high school, I finally stopped growing - topping out at 5'-10", which left me still taller than almost everyone my age. Had I been a basketball player, this might have been a good thing, but my athletic abilities were non-existent, so that was not happening. Needless to say, no high school girl wants to be taller than all the boys that she wants to date. Looking down on your prom date's head is bad, but having to bend down to kiss him... the horror! But that's how it was for me growing up. So I did what I could to be smaller - wore flats and slouched. This sounds ridiculous, I know, but to my teenage mind it made perfect sense.
I'm comfortable with my height now, I even enjoy wearing heels from time to time. But sometimes, I notice that same shrinking mentality in other areas of my life. I realize that it has affected way more than my dating life over the years. Not only have I learned to instinctively make my physical size appear smaller; I also allow my SELF to appear smaller than I really am. I shrink away from the spotlight at all costs, I avoid praise and compliments instinctively, I play small, I don't always speak up when I know that answer, I don't voice my opinion often enough, I let others be heard over my own voice.
This behavior is so completely ingrained in my being that I don't even realize I am doing it. It has become a part of who I am. I sometimes wonder how I might approach life differently had I arrived here on earth in a different package... What if I were short and petite? Would I go through life always trying to appear larger in everything that I do? There are things in everyone's lives and past experiences and physical make-up that effect their personalities and their general approach to life. Some of these are positive and some negative. But I believe that it is less important to label them good or bad than it is to simply be aware of them and how they have shaped us. I've only recently started to become aware of my tendency to appear small and really start to look for the root cause of it. As I pay closer attention to it, and start to shine the light of awareness into it, I can feel it starting to lose the hold that it has had on my personality and my life since childhood. It is difficult and painful at times to explore this, but absolutely necessary if I want to continue to grow and evolve into the person that I know I am meant to be.
The quote from Marianne Williamson's book A Return To Love really resonates with me, as I'm sure it does with all of us on some level:
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."
Are you really letting your own light shine? Is there something in your past, that is still influencing your behavior and might be holding you back? How can you acknowledge that and start to understand how it has shaped you, and then decide whether it is still serving you today? This is not easy, but it is SO worth it. YOU are worth it. Go let your light shine.
Let me know how it goes!
© Haley McManigal 2015
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