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Episode 065: You Don’t Need to Make Yourself Small

Recently someone said to me “I am done making myself small for people.” It struck me how often we do this and how it is linked to the way we talk to ourselves.  Are you making yourself small in your life? Tips to show up in your life fully.

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Hi and welcome. This episode 65. You don’t need to make yourself small. Hey, everyone. I’m a little late this week on my podcast. Labor Day threw me off, and I was scrambling to finish my book. (Yay.) So I can get it to my editor, and so that happened on Tuesday, and I have been enjoying the break from writing do anything other than seeing clients. So I am back at it today even though it’s Thursday and I usually do this on Monday or Tuesday.

But anyway I’m back at it, and today I wanted to talk about the phrase “you don’t need to make yourself small.” Someone recently was telling me that she’d heard this phrase “you don’t need to make yourself small” and this was her new mantra.  Occasionally I’ll hear a sentence that strikes me and this one “you don’t need to make yourself small” was one of those. I’ve been thinking about it for a couple of days now, and so I wanted of just do a podcast on it. Because I think for a lot of us we do that, we make ourselves small and couch it in the “well I don’t really want to fight that fight, ” or “Oh I don’t really want to get into a big debate about something so I’m just going to make myself small.”

And I think it harms us more than it helps us. So what do I mean by you don’t need to make yourself small. If you think about it, I think we make ourselves small in a variety of places. Like at work when we don’t speak up when we know something about a project that we think will add to the conversation and we don’t say anything. At home when we don’t ask for what we need, and we just keep plowing ahead keeping our head down doing the To Do list just going through the motions of life and we don’t speak up to say we need help or can someone do this or asking does this really need to be done?

Those kind of situations are how we play small or just say what I want is to go out to dinner. I don’t want to have to cook. Those are ways that we can speak up and then even with our friends when we let’s let things slide, or someone says something that we don’t agree with, and we just let it go rather than standing up for ourselves.  I think there are little ways that we make ourselves small all the time. Sometimes you hear that saying you think oh you know I don’t let people abuse me or I don’t let people talk to me that way, and that’s not what I want you to think on.

When did you think of the little tiny ways that you don’t show up as truly “you” are in a situation in your daily life. So as I mentioned one of the reasons we play small is because we’re afraid of making a fuss and it coming back on us in a bigger way.For example, we say “I don’t want to cook the meal tonight” then we decide to go out and it becomes a bigger deal than if we would just cook dinner and not have to worry about it. But another reason I think is more important as is to we make ourselves small is because of our Monger. All roads lead back to where Monger. Our Monger shames us and convinces us that we aren’t ok as we are. We need to make ourselves small to fit into society, and this can show up in you’re too emotional you’re too much or too loud you’re too whatever. Our Monger wants us to tone down whatever it is you are.

That’s too much. So you can fit in and not have that same feeling come over you. An example of this for me it’s small it’s tiny but it’s still an example of when I make myself small is the idea of really showing up to the fact that I am an introvert and I don’t really like to do a ton of social things. I am perfectly happy having a weekend of just me and my husband. Hanging out at the house, in the backyard. Just putzing and around doing my own thing and I don’t need a lot of social activity.

My husband is more social than me not a ton more, but he’s more social. He frequently says, “We should be going out we should be doing something so-and-so invited us to do this we should do that.” And I have a tough time saying no. I just want to stay home. I don’t want to go out. I just had a long week I just want to be by myself at home and the reason I have a hard time saying that because my Monger convinces me that that is true. I am too sensitive I’m too quiet I’m too introverted, and I need to be a good person. A good person would be social and get out there and do stuff.

And because I am such a loser who likes to stay home that means I need to force myself to do something different and so for me a way that I need to show up in my life and not make myself small is to say no I don’t want to go out and that’s okay. No, I don’t want to meet a bunch of people at a bar. No, I don’t want to you know hang out with these people and spend hours making small chat I don’t want to do it. And so and then not shaming myself for the fact that I don’t want to do it. When I make myself small, I go along and making myself small I ignore what is that I need and I want, and I do that to the detriment of myself. Because then I go and spend more of my energy that I don’t have in making small talk and being social.

So paying attention to the idea that making yourself small really means you’re just not showing up to the innate traits that you have. You know you’re not really honoring who you are, and especially as women we are taught we need to diminish ourselves a little bit because that just makes life go easier. And so we diminish ourselves and don’t take up as much space. I know there’s going to be pushback on the fact of well if I am constantly showing up for who I am and I’m constantly not making myself small isn’t that a little selfish.

And my pushback is always going to be no because if you are struggling with making yourself small, you are way over here on the left side of the continuum. You are far reaching. I’m pushing my hand all the way across the room right now as far as I can stretch and selfish is clear over on the right hand as far as I can stretch so the reality of you moving from making yourself small all the way across the room to selfish probably not going to happen. And it’ll feel like it in the sense of your Monger will convince you that you are becoming way over here in the selfish world but you aren’t.

So a prime example of this is when I actually stand up for myself, and I say, “you know what I don’t want to go out to that party. I don’t want to go just hang out at the bar and make small talk”, and I’ll tell my husband you can go. You can do that. But I want to stay home. And that to me feels ginormous like I have made such a fool of myself and my Monger just chimes in tenfold to tell me no you’re selfish just suck it up and go. And the more we just “suck it up and go” the more stressed out we get, the more overwhelmed we get, the less we’re taking care of ourselves. And that’s what this is all about that, in my opinion, is what living happier is all about figuring out how to decrease that stress and overwhelm so we can really enjoy our lives.

And when I don’t spend a Saturday night out with a bunch of people making small talk my Sunday is so much better. And my Saturday is always better because I’m not dreading going out with people on Saturday night. So paying attention to what is it you need to show up for your life? Where are you making yourself small so that you don’t have to and face that Monger? As you know, I’m a big proponent of the Biggest Fan. And so when my Monger does attack me for saying no to some event going out. My Biggest Fan usually chimes in to say we don’t want to go. And that’s OK. You know I tend to make a mountain out of a mole. I tell myself if I say no I’m a terrible person. When in reality what I did was so minuscule.

And so when my Biggest Fan can come in and be like “honey bear this is nothing. You are not demanding a lot here. You have moved two steps down that little continuum, and you were not anywhere near selfish.” So I need to constantly be reminding myself of that. And as I do that it gets easier and easier and easier for me to show up and take up space and not make myself small. So that is the theme of the day, and I hope you can kind of implement some of that not making yourself small as much as I’m trying to implement that in my own life.

If you have questions or issues or something, you want to chat with me about please e-mail me. You can also check me out on Instagram at NancyJane_livehappier.


Weekly Ritual Segment:

One thing that has helped me Live Happier is adding regular ritual practices to my daily life so each week I am going to be sharing a ritual with you and challenge you to complete it.

Be Creative

This week’s weekly ritual challenge is to be creative. And I got to say being creative is not my strong suit. I’m creative in a lot of ways in my teaching and writing, and I do have creativity. But the traditional ways of being creative of drawing and painting and coloring are not my strong suit. So this week has been challenging for me to kind of implement that and I have been doing it the past couple of days if you check out my Instagram feed you can see, and I’m amazed at how much it helps. Just five minutes or even two minutes of getting out of that analytical brain and stepping into the creativity side.

It has been incredible. So I really encourage you even if you have a lot of red flags or a lot of resistance as I did which is one reason I picked it. A lot of resistance to this week’s weekly ritual challenge all the more reason for you to challenge yourself to do a couple of minutes. And I think that’s what’s been so powerful about it is I’ve just challenged myself to do a couple of minutes.  When I think of being creative, I believe that it has to be this whole big thing spending the afternoon painting coloring when really it’s just showing up and flipping your brain a little bit to the other side. And that’s what this is all about changing things up.

I challenge you to complete the weekly ritual challenge of being creative. Check out my Instagram where I share my daily check in with the weekly ritual practice. It is a helpful way for both of us to stay accountable to the practice.

I’ll be back next week for another Happiness Hacks podcast, and I hope to see you then If you have questions or thoughts or anything, please email me at, or you can follow me on Instagram, @nancyjane_livehappier. Until next time here’s to living happier.

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