So many of us still have deeply rooted habits, inherited over time that keep us from putting our full selves out there. The cultural message passed down to us tells us not to take too much attention, appear too assertive (read “bossy”) and at all costs be humble. But this is no time to be tamping down our light! Being humble is often a cover to not appear too “full of ourselves.” As children we are unabashed in the celebration of our creations and have no problem asking (demanding!) to be recognized for our chalk drawing or swan dive. Unfortunately, research shows that by the age of 12 or 13 girls have become indoctrinated into the unspoken rule to not outshine others.
The Shift From Sorry to Thank You
If you don’t think you have any of that going on, just count how many times you say ’sorry’ in a day. It’s probably more than you say thank you and you’re welcome combined. I know I’m an offender. We rush to say it when we’re interrupted or if someone walks too close to us. We say “Sorry, did you want that?” Sorry, I’m not making a lot of sense.” “Sorry, I’m just grabbing something.” “You wanted to talk first? Oh, sorry.”
It’s not personal. Lena Dunham admitted to her Apology Addiction in her LI post Sorry, Not Sorry “it turns out saying sorry somehow makes you sorrier. In friendships, it creates tension and some odd drama where there wasn’t any. Think about it: if your friend is apologizing to you for a slight that you didn’t even register, then you start to wonder what she did! You start to wonder what you did! Everyone is confused!” She called Beyonce’s Lemonade “a massive cultural event” because it gives women who are sick of apologizing, a catchy tune in which they could sing the words “sorry, I ain’t sorry” again and again!
Making Ourselves Small
This tendency towards making ourselves small runs deep and wide. During the Billboard Awards, legend Celine Dion was being honored and celebrated with the Icon Award. Prior to her coming on stage they showed an awe-inspiring retrospective of her vast and iconic singing career. She was clearly moved. But the first words out of her mouth when they presented her with the award: “I’m sorry!” She instinctively apologized for her beautiful tears.This is one of the best-selling artists of all time with record sales of over 200 million.
How To Make Yourself Big
A small step for each of us would be to start replacing ‘sorry’ with ‘thank you’. Instead of “Sorry, I’m not making a lot of sense” how about “Thank you for getting me.” Instead of “Sorry I’m late” try “Thank you for your patience.” You can also simply start noticing when you shrink your own needs for the needs or approval of others.
And don’t “double bad” yourself when you do, this habit of making ourselves small has been trained into us for centuries. We are unlearning it! Recall a time (maybe decades ago) when you yelled to mom or dad, “look at me!” That quirky, original you is still alive and well and she needs air time!
Don’t be afraid that other women will be jealous or not like you for being your badass self. My experience in working with thousands of women is that more and more, when we see another woman in all her authentic glory we quietly say, “go girl!” It gives us permission to do the same. As Oprah once said, “When we see this kind of power shining through someone in all its truth and certainty, it’s irresistible, inspiring, elevating.”