Do you play things smaller than you’re capable of to avoid making someone jealous or intimidated or any other reason? This means trying to minimize your accomplishments when you share what you’ve done. We often do that to please other people or to make them feel better about themselves or because we’ve been taught that being modest makes people like you more. Or, you may do it because you’re afraid that someone won’t like you if they think you’re conceited or hearing about you makes them feel badly about themselves.
When I was a DoorMat I often kept my abilities quiet in order to not possibly create a problem. DoorMats are very good at downplaying their abilities to make others feel good and it can become an offshoot of people pleasing. Even when I left DoorMatville, I couldn’t shake the habit easily. I remember dating a guy I liked a lot. He was very insecure. Although he had a decent job, he wasn’t following his passions and making money from his artistic talents. My first book was coming out around then. He often asked what someone like me was doing with him.
He knew I’d been on TV and radio shows and people were talking about my book, while he was in a boring job. I kept reassuring him that he was just as good as me and he shouldn’t feel bad about himself. Then I began to minimize what I did. I reminded him that he had a real job while I hustled as a freelancer. The TV shows were no big deal and maybe my book would flop. Every time we were together I felt a need to act like I’d done nothing special to keep his ego soothed.
Now I own what I’ve done with pride. When I played small, to help him, it was at my expense. It made me feel lower about me. I don’t deserve that! Neither do you. Now I seek friends, boyfriends, etc. who are proud of me, who I don’t have to shrink for. Women often ask me how an empowered woman can attract a good guy and not intimidate him. As with anyone you just meet, you don’t have to share your whole resume and accomplishments or abilities all at once. Slowly get to know the person and share just a little each time.
It’s healthier to get to know someone slowly, no matter what the relationship. Sometimes we dive in with someone we like or relate to and tell them our whole life story immediately. I’ve learned that it’s hard to process too much at once. Now I tell a little at a time, giving the person a chance to get to know me for me, not for who I am in my career. And this recovering DoorMat will never play down what I’ve achieved my talents so as not to put someone off. I only want people in my life who accept the whole package of me so I can be myself, not some edited, smaller version of me.
You owe it to yourself to own all the good that you are and what you’ve done.
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