Let’s show up and be ourselves, because we are all craving realness.
This topic is deeply rooted in the nuanced discussion of social privilege, but I will save that discussion for another time. Here, you’ll find 8 ways that women typically minimize themselves and practical tips for what to do about it...starting now.
1. Speak in your actual voice. Many of us have learned to minimize the sound of our voices. Our voice conveys our intention and our presence. Notice if you pull back the volume of your voice, become high pitched, or constrict your diaphragm when speaking in particular situations. Consider, how your voice changes when you have a strong opinion. Do you shy away completely, try extra hard to sound pleasant, or feel the need to become the most dominating voice in the conversation? These are all clues about what you’ve learned around being seen and heard. Relax your throat and torso and start experimenting with speaking from an expansive diaphragm. Your voice has the unique signature of each of your gifts and talents. Express that beautiful voice of yours from its most full and empowered place - the world needs to hear it!
2. Notice when you are being agreeable. For years, when I found myself in a conversation with a dominating person, I would laugh and bring lightness to the situation. Especially with a stranger, elderly person, or someone that I felt had more relevance than I did in business. These are all things that I learned over the years through a covert osmosis. It took concerted awareness and attentive action to work through this self-silencing.
Notice how a pattern of needing to seem agreeable might be operating in your life. Does it happen more when you’re around certain people? What are you trying to avoid or gain by doing that? Many of us are afraid of disagreeing, sounding mean, or being perceived as lacking empathy. Remember, disagreement can be expressed with compassion and lightheartedness too - explore this more in your life.
3. It’s okay not to be liked. This is a perfect segue from tip #2. No matter how hard any of us try, there will be someone who is not pleased or satisfied by us. This is a tough one because it’s almost always rooted in fears around self-worth that we learned in our early years. The good news is that now you’re a grown-up and can take care of yourself. The same sense of helplessness that we had as children isn’t there anymore. We are in full control and our adult self is allowed to drive the bus of our lives.
When fears of not being liked creep in and threaten to sabotage your actions, take a personal moment. In that moment, speak to that little girl inside that is afraid of not belonging and let her know that she is loved and awesome. Allow your adult self to comfort your inner child by conveying the words and feelings that were missing in those early years at home, in the playground, and so on. This is an incredible act of self-healing and self-care that each of us can access pretty easily. Once you’ve done that, go back into the world, and be yourself without hesitation - even if that means some people won’t like the real you. Dying to Be Me, by Anita Moorjani, offers some incredible lessons on self-love and acceptance.
4. Accept that you don’t have it all together and that you don’t know everything. There is a tremendous pressure to have the career, the looks, the status, the etc.etc. It’s incredibly empowering and uplifting to say “no” to pressures around appearing a certain way in any category. Change starts with us. We need to give ourselves permission to be imperfect. There is great liberation in being honest about when you don’t know something or don’t have the right answer. There’s a beautiful (and magnetic) humanity in honoring where we are and what we have to offer in the present moment.
How many times have you nodded your head in agreement, but didn’t have the slightest clue about what someone was talking about? I know that I have done that in the past. It’s an unnecessary action that only makes us feel more inadequate. Practice saying “I’m not sure” or “Let me look into it and I’ll get back to you” when you don’t know something. It’s okay to circle back to people.
5. Fears around being dubbed as high maintenance or not “chill” enough. Somewhere along the way, women learned that knowing what you want and making it happen could be misconstrued as high maintenance. This loaded term comes with so many stereotypes and unhelpful baggage. Let’s just ditch this term in general because it’s not doing anyone any favours! The truth is that our fear of being judged or labeled can prevent us from maintaining important boundaries in our lives.
Recently, someone told me that people are used to me having opinions so when I express myself they take me seriously. This person felt that when she expresses her needs, people expect her to be relaxed and easy going and, therefore, don’t take her seriously. Since when did having an opinion or need mean that you aren’t relaxed or chill, I thought? Be careful when sabotaging self-talk convinces you that prioritizing other people’s comfort is more important than your well-being.
6. Stop putting each other down. A lot of our sisters need an intervention with this. Stop criticizing other women. Seriously, stop it. We have enough pressure to deal with from our own internal chatter and the rest of the world. This is one of the easier things to accomplish on this list. Stop negatively commenting on one another’s appearance. Stop sharing damaging memes and jokes about women. And stop gossiping about each other. Let’s build other women up instead of tearing them down. We need to create a community among us because together we are strong and unstoppable. Let’s take every opportunity to lift each other up. For inspiration, check out this empowering strategy that women in the White House used to help one another’s ideas get heard and noticed.
7. Ask for help. You’ve definitely heard this one before, and it’s worth noting again. Despite what it might feel like at times, we don’t have to be able to do it all, perfectly, and on time. Reach out and ask for help from your colleagues, peers, and family. Can’t think of anyone to help you? Then join a meetup group where women help other women - there are plenty of them!
8. Do something powerful for yourself each morning. No matter how busy you are, you have to be able to carve out at least 10 minutes for yourself, preferably in the morning. Personal development coach, Tony Robbins, famously said, “If you don’t have 10 minutes, then you don’t have a life” and I tend to agree.
Allow the first thing you do each morning to fill your well-being reservoir. For me, it’s going to the gym. Most mornings, I don’t want to go, but I make myself do it. I focus on the one step ahead of me, which is putting on my gym clothes. Once I’ve done this ritual, the hard part is over. It sets me up for success and good feelings every day. It helps me start the day feeling like I’m ahead of the game because I’ve already accomplished something important.
You can do this too through a number of ways like working out, meditating, taking time to eat a delicious and healthy breakfast, writing, doing positive affirmations, reading, looking at yourself in the mirror and sending love vibes to your beautiful body, and so on. The options are endless. This is the single most important thing that someone can do daily. It sends a powerful message to the subconscious mind that you are important. This affirming action of self-worth creates brain chemistry that further supports your success in all areas of life.
Now, take the one thing that resonated most with you or brought up the strongest reaction in this post, and start there. Change doesn’t happen overnight, especially when a lot of these patterns can be happening out of our conscious awareness. Actively and consistently shine a light on the patterns that are causing you to play small and overlook your magnificence.
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