On a quiet Sunday morning these words echoed through my kitchen as I was listening to a coaching video from a lady called Carla Hill.
“Keeping myself small”…
I knew EXACTLY what she meant.
Once upon a time that was me. And it took me some time to figure out that this was one of the biggest causes of my unhappiness for almost 33 years of my life.
In March of 2016 I had Cognitive Behavioural therapy (CBT) alongside a life coaching course I was busy with. Up until this point in my life I thought that I understood so many things about myself, but CBT really challenged me to find the underlying issues that had a negative impact on me as a person.
One of the things I came to realise is that I was always ready to keep everyone around me happy and comfortable, would it be my husband, friends, family, colleagues. No matter what, I would put their wants and needs before my own. To me, I was never a priority. I was always tired, overworked and overwhelmed, but still I won’t stop going out of my way for others. I never liked to put myself as a priority because everyone else around me mattered more.
Or so I told myself…
It took me a long time to figure out the different personality traits that makes people with big hearts keep themselves small for others, so I have made up a list of these traits to continue recognising the issues that took rise over the years.
1. The People pleaser
The biggest traits of someone keeping themselves small for others is being a people pleaser.
- A People Pleaser is a person who believes that they are less than most others on the planet and have the need to hide these beliefs from all whom they come in contact with. They feel so low that they typically behave like a doormat and frequently put themselves in situations where they are treated as such.
- A people pleaser will do almost anything to keep others in the dark about what is going on within.
- Dishonesty, deception and lies are the primary tools used by a People Pleaser. Within the context of an intimate relationship, a People Pleaser will frequently paint illusions that depict what they believe their partner wants to see all the while never disclosing who and what they really are. People Pleaser’s also have the tendency to frustrate their partner to no end with this insidious behavior.
- A People Pleaser’s goal is always the same which is to keep anyone from knowing just how crappy they feel about themselves and they will strive for this goal at any cost.
- A person afflicted with this “disease to please” will typically tell more lies over the course of a lifetime than those with other mental illnesses. (This is usually to make themselves look good or give that impression)
- People Pleaser’s can come in the form of men but are typically women as they are more emotionally based.
Source: Urban dictionary
2. Low self esteem
In sociology and psychology, self-esteem reflects a person’s overall subjective emotional evaluation of his or her own worth. It is a judgment of oneself as well as an attitude toward the self. Definition WikipediaSource
You may think that you have all the confidence in the world. Sure you do! But, there is a huge difference between self confidence (which is external) and self esteem (which is internal)
One of the reasons I started CBT was because of low self esteem. It really mattered to me that people liked me, approve of me and appreciate me. I also needed to be reminded all the time of how great I am as I couldn’t tell myself this – I didn’t exactly think very highly of myself. When someone has low self esteem they never really show their true personality because they always want to show the best of what they have. They tend to adapt themselves to situations and people just to fit in. In other words, they do keep themselves small but do try very hard to get noticed and liked, but in as subtle of ways as possible. It turns into a vicious circle as to when this person’s true personality does come to the rise, the opposite parties does not like what they see or have to deal with.
3. Fear of confrontation
Just mentioning the word to a lot of people make them break out in a sweat. Often times this fear comes from the concern that confrontation has to be ugly, but often times it is down to us not knowing how to successfully challenge someone else as for their opinion or behaviour.
It often times comes back to point number 2 about self esteem: “if I confront someone they won’t like me anymore” or “if I confront someone they will stay angry at me” This often times stems from someone with low self esteem as all they want is to be liked and not be frowned upon.
4. The control freak
Often times people who keep themselves small for others tends to take control over things in their lives to someohow fill that need to be big. This is usually because something in their life or within themselves feels out of control. They have a tendency to take control of anything and everything that can be controlled in their life. This often times leads to overwhelm, exhaustion and disgruntled feelings towards the opposite parties for not appreciating everything they do for them.
From my own experience, this isn’t a healthy personality trait. For 2 years in my previous job, I made exactly this mistake. I wanted to control everything, make my mark, make an impression. I never asked for help either – I was too stubborn. It lead to me feeling resentful and angry towards my bosses but at the same time I wanted to take on more responsibilities to “feel and look important”
One can continue to hold this facade for many many years, but like in my case, it came to bite me in the arse – now looking back – at just the right time in my life, it was possibly the biggest eye opener of it all.
5. The fear of being seen as weak
No-body likes to be seen as a pushover. I sure don’t like to be seen as one! For a very long time however, I would zip my lips and put my head down, just not to speak up for myself, my wants and needs, at the same time feeling angry for not being able to show that I don’t put up for anyone’s nonsense.
I have learned that keeping oneself small for others is often times a weakness in itself. It can be changed but it has to be a conscious decision and most certainly not something that can be implemented overnight – the people in your life will not respond well to it. This is a change that has to be gradual, baby steps. After a year and a half I am still making changes to this.
6. Fear of being rejected
In early 2016 I came to breaking point. I made the mistake to ask to be a priority for a change. And it wasn’t received well.
This has happened to me more than once. When you run around looking after everyone, you never forget about your wants and needs. They are there too. You also want to be looked after, cared for, pampered and made to feel comfortable and happy. But you feel guilty for even asking because of fear of being rejected. And when you pluck up the courage to say “it’s my turn now”, you are scared to be blamed for being “selfish” and “self centred” and “always just thinking about yourself”. I have had this happen to me before but after some time you learn that this is more a reflection of the person saying these things to you.
Lastly, keeping yourself small for others is not rewarding, even if you think it is. There comes a time in ones life when you have to realise that you are a priority too. It is not all about them, you are a human being as well. You can change this by beginning to recognise what causes you to even be in this position in the first place. What brought you to this? What things from your past is causing you to stand back for everyone? Why are you scared to change things to be more happy and be on the receiving end once in a while? Time to reflect and work on being the bigger person, the bigger person within yourself
~ Elize Endhart ~