In my last post I wrote about the subject of small: being small, feeling small. Lots of thoughtful comments and discussion ensued. One of my colleagues was so inspired, (God bless her for telling me) she got busy developing an entire coaching curriculum around the subject of confidence.
Today I offer a few of my thoughts on how you can avert or even avoid sinking feelings of smallness, personally or professionally. These have helped me tremendously. Perhaps they’ll work for you, too.
- Take responsibility for right-sizing yourself. A good friend told me years ago that the real definition for humility wasn’t about meekly cowering in the corner and allowing everyone else to run you over or run your life. Nope. Humility is about being no more than, but also no less than who you are meant to be. Being overly meek, fearful, or powerless is a form of arrogance. God / The Universe / Whatever-Higher-Power-You-Believe-In expects more of you than that.
- Call it out. If someone has tried to make you feel small, muster up the courage to call them on it. The sooner, the better. Often the person doesn’t realize what they’ve done. What’s more, you may be doing them a favor by pointing out their unkind behavior. In addition, bullies are often bullies because of their own issues of smallness, insecurities, and frustration. Somehow we let them get away with lashing out at us or others. And they keep doing it because it works. Why not change that? (Seth Godin penned a great post on this. Check it out.)
- Consider ancient wisdom and literature focusing on small-becomes-big. Remember all the stories about how something small or seemingly insignificant becomes (or accomplishes or turns into) something amazing, magnificent, beautiful, or strong? David and Goliath. The mustard seed. Acorns. The Little Engine that Could. Cinderella. Rocky. Rudy. The Ugly Duckling. There are many more. It’s a universal human story.
- Stretch and grow. Don’t stagnate. Try new things. Take a few baby steps out of your comfort zone (a.k.a. rut). Strengthen your courage (a word derived from the Latin word for “heart”) and confidence. Allow yourself to be imperfect and vulnerable (which is the new language for brave as hell). I’ve taken a few of these steps this past year. While my adrenaline glands are just about kaput, I have never had so much fun in my life. Nor have I been so proud of myself and my accomplishments. Feels great!
- Shift. Stuck in a situation you can’t control? If you can’t find your way out, then the only other way is through. Search for ways to shift your attitude about the situation. Check out Byron Katie’s work. She’s the queen of this stuff.
- Strive to improve yourself. As you learn and grow, so will your self-esteem. (Personal and professional development are ongoing, lifelong initiatives, by the way.)
- Become more particular. For example, read more and watch a lot less mindless reality TV. (I mean, really. Who cares about keeping up with the K’s?? How will monitoring their dysfunctional, drama-filled lives possibly add value to yours?) Pay attention to who and what you’re spending your precious time on. Get downright persnickety.
- Say “no more!” Especially to people, activities and situations that are time-wasters, energy-suckers, and small-makers. This will free up lots of time and energy and allow you to regain some strength and stamina for people and things that make you feel good.
- Rally your friends, family, fans. Talking, venting, and gaining perspective on how others see you (and what value they see in you) will help. No question. Which is why having a network of friends is critical to our well-being.
- Make some new, interesting friends. Strike up conversations with strangers. Offer compliments. Ask friendly questions. Remark on common experiences. (For help on this, read my book The Intentional Networker, which will help you not only meet new people, but help you meet your people – the people who are right for you.)
- Go have some fun. Honestly. We spend so much of our time worrying about and grinding away on work and little details that in the end won’t matter one bit. Will we be glad we worked ourselves into a frenzy over the fringe on the throw rug or getting that TPS report done when we take our last breath? No way! Use some of those vacation days. Go zip-lining. Throw a party for no reason. Plan a trip. Pop open a bottle of champagne. Skip the chore list and go outside with the kids to play.
- Practice self care. It’s not a luxury; it’s a requirement. My friend Renee Trudeau is an expert on helping people understand that taking care of ourselves physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually are non-negotiable facets of a healthy, happy, balanced, fruitful, productive life.
- “Buy yourself a new hat.” These are actual words from my mother. Okay, so you might update her sage advice a bit and buy yourself something other than a hat; something you’ve been wanting, but didn’t feel you deserved or couldn’t afford. If buying a new iPad, pair of kicky heels, or a new car will make your life better, please go for it. (I am updating my own Wish List right now!)
Now it’s your turn: what else would you add to this list? How do you build yourself up when you feel small? How do you protect yourself from people, situations or thoughts that can cause shrinkage? What has worked for you?
Looking for an inspiring, empowering speaker or facilitator for your next networking or professional development event? I’m developing my 2014 speaking schedule now. Let’s explore how we can work together! Contact me at patti[at]intentionalnetworker[dot]com.