Have you thought lately about how you describe yourself? When asked what you do, do you find yourself incorporating your responses with words like “just” and “only.” For example, “Well, I’m just a BLANK,” or “I’m only a BLANK.” Do you focus on your shortcomings as opposed to your strengths?
The words we use to describe ourselves reflect our self perception. They also shape the perception others have of us.
In my work, providing psychotherapy and coaching support, I’m listening for words that indicate to me whether clients are in tune with and connected to their greatness or bound by ties to the Small Self. By “greatness” I’m talking about the vast and unique array of knowledge and skills each of us brings to relationships and whatever job we are doing or potentially seeking.
The Small Self
The ego’s default is to keep us small, because small translates to safer (or so we think). Guided by a constricted view of ourselves and our talents, we can confine ourselves to a box where our experience of life appears orderly and expected, thus allowing us to more easily “fit in” and have a sense of belonging. To step out of that box can seem extremely scary because it requires a journey into unknown territory that may be fraught with perceived danger. What if I fail at what I want to try? What if others judge me? What if I look foolish? What if I don’t fit in any longer? Those around us can sometimes be threatened by or uncomfortable with our success or change.
The innate need for safety and belonging can rob us of rich opportunities for adventure and growth and hold us back from living the life we were meant to live—one defined by excellence and expansion. And mistakes have a critical place in an expansive experience of life.
If what I’ve written above resonates for you and you’re seeking change, I invite you to take a first step and seek to become more aware of how you may be shortchanging yourself. With awareness comes a whole new array of possibilities to redefine ourselves and embrace the fullness of life. If you’ve boxed yourself in, it’s time to break out!