What do I really mean by being Big? In #1 of this empowerment series I discussed why feeling small is painful. In comparison, expressing yourself fully and authentically feels Big. Actually it’s the full expression of who you are, but after years of holding back and doubting and being small; it feels vulnerable to be Big. Being Big is being able to take stock, in the moment, of emotions, sensations, wants, needs and to express these without apologizing or doubting.
Is everyone Big all the time? Nope; unless you have transcended this life, right?! And most of us have not done that. Some of us are living small and as victims or saviors or perpetrators. Being Big is stepping out of these.
Just as being small can be painful, so too, can being Big; at first. A good metaphor for growth is when you work a muscle that you don’t usually work and it’s sore the next day. Being Big can cause some soreness and that’s how you know you are shifting, changing and growing. Though watch out for going too far beyond your limit and spraining or pulling your Big muscle; it’s ok and even healthy to use your discernment about how much growth you are ready for in any given moment.
I’ll use myself for an example. I find that fake examples that I make up don’t feel the same as personal struggles that people can relate to. And, because I’ve gone through it before, it’s easier to talk about the subtleties of an experience.
Growing up I got the message that I should be like everyone else and fit in. I should wear certain clothes and date people with certain skin colors. And of course, I complied. As a child and teenager your welfare depends on your caregivers. You learn to repress wants and needs that seem not to fit in or be nourished by your caregivers. Or seem to threaten your relationship with them. I was told that I would be disowned. Everything in my being felt that this was wrong, that I was wronged. I wanted badly to do what I wanted to do. But I needed to be fed, clothed and sheltered. I needed my caregivers.
So, then, I learned to discourage, repress, and change some of my actual needs. I learned that others’ opinions were more important than mine and that I should concede to others and try to fit in the best I could. This began to change when I entered graduate school. People started inquiring about who I really am, what fires burn in my heart and how I want to be in the world. I had been asked versions of these questions when I was younger, especially by my father’s family….but never to this extent. It was like the people I was going to school with wanted to know the me, the authentic me, that no one had ever seen before. I was being invited to be seen. Whoa! It was beyond weird. At first, I made mistakes expressing my opinions. I would be too aggressive or pushy with my opinion. I began learning how to “check in” with myself first, before answering questions. I learned how to notice what I was thinking and feeling. I started growing my Big awareness muscle. I am still growing it today. When I am aware, I have choice, I can be Big and authentic.
Why does awareness allow choice? Well, when you have awareness you can identify conflicting feelings or wants and make a choice. You can discern between what others want from you and what you want for yourself. You are aware if you are being Big or small; and if you have judgement about either. When you are aware if you have judgement, shame or blame toward yourself you can notice the judgement and bring in kindness and compassion for yourself. Being Big requires that you have kindness and compassion for yourself; and when you have judgement you don’t layer on disappointment because you are human and it is a never-ending occurrence that we sometimes have judgement for ourselves or others. But when you are Big and empowered, you have a choice whether to change that judgement.
Being Big can be scary and vulnerable and painful; yes, it seems all worthwhile things can be. If you are looking for support during this process check out my About page to learn how I work. You can also book a 15 minute free phone consultation, to talk about your specific struggles and set up one on one counseling with me. You are so brave, keep it up.
Image credit: artist B.T.A