Small means insignificant, mediocre, unnoticed, inadequate, inconsequential, inconsiderable, insufficient, limited, little, meager, minuscule, minute, modest, narrow, paltry, petite, petty, pitiful, poor, puny, short, runt, stunted, toy, trifling, trivial, unpretentious, wee, young. You may identify with some of these words, or even all of them, but it’s not as unnatural as you think to feel this way.
If you can remember back to when you were a child, everything was so big. It seemed that you were the smallest thing in the world and your parents or carers were these ever present giants that constantly told you what to do and how to do it. And when we were told off by these giants, we felt some of the synonyms above, plus shame, guilt and possibly anger.
As adults, we all feel small sometimes. We look at the world as if we are ants, at the mercy of every heel that passes us. This shrinking feeling is at its peak when we are dealing with people who we allow to have superiority over us. Notice I use the word ‘allow’, because a person only truly has power over us when we allow them to have it. We transfer control to them, which they can then use as they see fit.
At times this can be a way of shifting burden and responsibility, so that we don’t have to deal with it ourselves. In the short term this is quite liberating, we don’t have to worry if a project gets done at work because ultimately the supervisor is responsible or if your child slaps someone in their class it’s the teacher’s responsibility to control behaviour. Unfortunately, being at the lower end of the foodchain means you get fed last and eaten first.
There are ways to become a giant yourself, not the Jack and beanstalk or Jack the giant slayer (Jack sure had issues with Giants! Ed) monstrosity that terrorises people, but the BFG of Roald Dahl, who champions the small. Here are some of the things you can do to be a giant in your life:
1. Take stock of who you are. We cling to our negatives and that can blind us to our strengths. In a recent coaching session a client overlooked how much they were dedicated to studying and physical fitness, committing a lot of their time to personal development. Instead of seeing this as a positive they lingered on the fact they were not perfect now. They had already done so much to work toward their goal and that in itself should be a cause for celebration. We need to develop an objective view of our strengths and weaknesses. Have the courage to ask others what they think. Write your strengths and weaknesses down and think of ways to tackling areas you need to improve. Make this a regular exercise to check in on yourself and you’ll begin to feel more confident in who you are.
2. Small steps lead to big things. We limit ourselves to where we feel the most comfortable. Confidence can’t be accessed this way. When you wake up on a cold morning and your toes touch the cool air outside your quilt your instinct is to snap them back in to the warmth. However, you still find the strength to get out of bed. Set yourself goals that stretch beyond your comfort zone. I’m not talking about bungee jumping or white water rafting. It can be as simple as taking that class on cooking you always wanted too or reaching out to someone you have wanted to get to know better.
3. To be big you have to think big. Don’t just settle for small life goals. Set yourself those big goals you have always dreamed about, then break the journey to them down into smaller milestones that you can measure. Making progress toward a goal is very fulfilling, but don’t push yourself too hard. Be realistic and set targets that don’t rely on the help of others. It is important to take full responsibility for your goals and sometimes it’s too easy to blame others when things go wrong.
4. Have your say. One of the biggest pitfalls of being small is that your voice isn’t often heard. Don’t be afraid to give your opinions and defend them. How you feel and what you think is just as valid as the people around you and just engaging with others will make them see you as more approachable. Not feeling able to share your thoughts, emotions or ideas is a common factor of feeling isolated and alone.
We gravitate towards people we can feel confidence in. It is a survival instinct to choose a pact leader that is confident and strong. Once you are able to walk a little taller you will notice other people will want engage with you. Be a giant and allow people to look up to you.