I’m not sure what this is or where it comes from. But most of us seem to be prone to get a split second inner voice just as we are about to make a decision. “How is this going to look?” Or, “Is this going to seem like I don’t care?” Or my favorite, “I don’t want to seem like a bitch.” I’ve been personally guilty of overthinking and overanalyzing a few decisions in my life, big and small. Most of the time, it’s in my professional life, but sometimes, I’ll have the occasional tap on the shoulder from my inner voice when it comes to something as simple as adding highlights to my hair. Absurd. Time to be done with that.
This seems to be pretty common in women that I speak to. Here’s my take on why.
You were raised that way
There’s a generation of people out there that were raised by parents with a very different mindset. The beliefs centered around the idea that it would be better in the long run to be a person that followed the rules, didn’t rock the boat, and for God sake, don’t try to be different. Those beliefs framed everything from standing up for yourself to what money meant.
When you are raised to believe that the status quo is what you need to strive for, it creates limiting beliefs at best and at worst, stunts your growth. It’s like having training wheels on your behaviors, which isn’t all bad, but those training wheels eventually reshape how you think about your own value as well. One day, you wake up and realize, “why don’t I fight for myself and the things I want instead of accepting everything as it is?” The answer to that is that you likely learned that it wasn’t necessary to do so. Key word: necessary. When you are bumped back into balance as soon as you slightly stray, eventually you learn that deviating feels scary, so why not just let those little wheels bump you straight again? This creates limitations in our thoughts, our interest in questioning things, and ultimately changes how we live our lives. Many times, it’s where our limiting beliefs about who we can be and what we can do begin. Once you realize this about yourself, it’s time to take some baby steps to confidence building. That is what is at the root of it all. Be aware when you are holding back something of value, and start letting yourself speak without fear. Baby steps.
You convinced yourself that it was your job
We know that it’s only a matter of time before a repeated action becomes a habit. Good or bad, it’s just what we want. We like patterns and we fall in lock step without even knowing it. Once you are the one who “doesn’t rock the boat” or is so “agreeable”, you start to wear it like a nametag. So much so, that you convince yourself that it’s a compliment. How could it not be? You’re never the one that starts the argument, amplifies the tenor of a conversation, or jams your opinion down anyone’s throat. That means you’re the wise, controlled, and reasonable one, right? Yes. And how’s that working for you? Many times, you become that person at the expense of your well being because you’ve tamped your feelings down so much that one day, you blow a gasket over a broken fingernail. The best way to think about this is to realize that you can state your opinion, ask for what you want, or challenge the status quo and not be a tyrant. It’s just something you will have to start to ease into, one situation at a time. It will get easier and it will be liberating.
Guilt, baby, guilt.
There it is again. Like the lockness monster, coming out when you least expect it. Whenever anything in our lives leads us to feeling guilty, that becomes the center of everything we are. And by the way, it’s magnetic. If we’ve thought of ourselves as less than others, not as competent or deserving because of something we can’t let go of, those feelings only attract other self defeating ideas like a magnet because, simply put, it’s familiar to us. The more we devalue ourselves over something we haven’t resolved, the more likely we are to believe that our mired feelings of self doubt are where we were destined to live. That means that any little spark of something valuable that we want to chime in and share, even something joyful, we hold it back. We don’t think we deserve any of the things that come along with joy, or the good vibes that come from a good opinion, thought, or taking a risk to do something amazing. That, in our mind, is reserved for those among us that have lived perfect lives and have nothing to feel bad about. Those confident souls that have it done it all right. Truth is, no one is out there living perfect lives, and if they jump into life with both feet, speak their mind, and share their joy, it’s because of only one thing. They believe they deserve to and they have found the grace needed to get out of the quicksand.
None of this treading into new territory and becoming more vocal is easy for someone that has spent a lifetime doing the old wallflower routine, but it can be done. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, however, so be patient. There are countless opportunities every day to put your own ideas and opinions out there, without over analyzing how those words will impact others. Be respectful, but don’t hold your beautiful thoughts, expressions and feelings hostage, just because sharing them might rock the boat or be unexpected. Someone out there needs what you have, so holding it in isn’t good for you or them.
It’s time to take the training wheels off.