Recently, there was a series of movies about shrinkage! They weren't about clothes shrinking but people! The ironic thing about the movies is the "nutty" inventor shrinks his family and eventually, himself! Afterwards, the inventor and his family have to face a much larger world as smaller people. Insects as large as dinosaurs and normal things became obstacles as well as things to be feared. You may remember the movies: "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids!" followed by "Honey, I Shrunk Ourselves."
We can transfer this image to ourselves. Like the nutty inventor, there are some of us who make ourselves small, thereby, making our problems larger. To illustrate, a friend told me that he makes himself small when he is around his new girlfriend and her friends. The reason is that she and her friends have college degrees and he doesn't. Just like the inventor in the movies, his girlfriend doesn't shrink him, he does it to himself! He shuts down and says very little. The ironic thing about my friend's story is that he is a very successful business person who has to be intelligent in order to do what he does. The problem is that he measures his intelligence by academic intelligence because it is recognized by degrees and grades. What he and many of us miss is that there are other types of important intelligences.
We shrink ourselves or make ourselves small when we compare ourselves. Often, we admire others' strengths in areas we think we are deficient. We measure ourselves by their talents not by our potentials or gifts which we often discount.
I shrink myself when I compare myself with wealthy people. An example, I was waiting for the wedding party to show up at a rehearsal at a Yacht Club. A man smoking a huge cigar drove up in an expensive Porsche with the top down. I told my wife, "I did not feel very successful looking at him. Obviously, he is successful because he belongs to the club with a premium membership fee and drives an expensive car." Karen said to me, "He may not be successful. He may just have a lot of money."
Just like the nutty inventor who shrunk his family, there are those people around us such as our partner, our family and co-workers whom we allow to shrink us by their criticisms and negativity. We have heard of families where the parent played favorites. One brother is seen as smarter and handsome. The other brother, often criticized, develops a core belief that he is stupid and says the wrong things. He finds himself shutting down. He weighs every word and, because he does, often says the "wrong" thing. He proves the core belief about himself to be true.
Next month, we will explore ways to empower ourselves.
Dr. William E. Austin is a licensed psychotherapist and holds a Doctor of Divinity degree. He is a therapist with Tidewater Pastoral Counseling Services . He is well known for his warmth and sense of humor. His book, Creating Our Safe Place - Articles on Healthy Relationships, can be purchased through www.amazon.com.
Tidewater Pastoral Counseling: 623-2700
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