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  • Writer's pictureTed Bradshaw

Something to think about, something to do


Recently, I watched my eldest daughter make some space for herself, and I was absolutely full of pride.

 

She was in her first cross-country race and at the starting line there was a gaggle of eight-year-olds, jostling for position. Initially, I saw her gradually disappear into the crowd, sinking further back until I couldn't see her. This made me feel a little sad.

 

However, when the race started, the group spread out and I saw her, right in the middle, striding forwards, eyes ahead, being bumped every now and then, but not giving ground. "You are entitled to your space, and I am entitled to mine" was the phrase that came to mind. I was so flipping pleased for her.

 

It's not always easy to make space for yourself, and sometimes a barrier can be that it feels like in order to do so, you need to be aggressive, throw your elbows around or bulldoze other people, but that just might not feel like you.

 

Here are three small ways you can make more space for yourself, which might feel more manageable.

 

Giving an opinion

 

Sometimes we make ourselves small by not expressing our wants or needs with even the smallest of things, maybe because we don't want to trample on the needs or wants of others, or sometimes because we don't feel like our needs are important enough:

 

"What do you fancy for dinner?"

"What do you want to watch tonight?"

"Where should we go this weekend?"

 

"I don't mind"

 

These seemingly small things add up. If we always keep our wishes to ourselves, it is hard for anybody to guess them. A really great place to start when making more space for yourself is with actually giving an answer. You don't have to "win" the decision, it is enough to have expressed it.

 

"If it were completely up to me, I would choose X"

 

Saying no (without a million apologies)

 

Saying no is often a massive thing when you don't want to cause any inconvenience to anybody else. The hard thing about that is that you don't get to have full control over how you spend your time. You might have plans to chill out on an evening, but if someone messages you asking for something and you can't say no, you don't get to do what you wanted to.

 

Most of the time, that means that you only feel you can say no when you have a "good enough excuse" like being ill. And if you do say no, you do so with an immensely long message which contains five apologies, a very long explanation and often, without actually saying the word "no."

 

Learning to say no is about learning that reasonable people don't actually need your explanation. "No, sorry, I can't do that." is enough for a reasonable person. If they want to know more about why, A) that is weird on their part and B) you can always give your explanation if you want to.

 

Just don't lead with it.

 

Showing more of who you really are

 

Another way we make ourselves small is by hiding who we really are. That might be choosing clothes that are "safe" because they don't cause comments or criticism (I am immediately thinking of the array of blue shirts in my wardrobe). It might be keeping quiet about the music you like, the films you are into or the hobbies that you have, because you don't want to be judged.

 

We all have a right to like what we like. It makes sense that we want to avoid judgement from others but sometimes, that means that our lives are diminished, that we don't get to live in the way that we really want to.

 

Sometimes making more space for yourself is showing a little bit more of who you really are.

 

Something to think about 

 

How many times this week have you given up some of your space?

 

Something to do

 

If you were going to make just a little more space for yourself this week, how would you do it?

 

Thanks for reading! Until next week,

 

Ted

 

P.S. For the next few weeks on my social media output I am focusing on self esteem. If that sounds useful at all, follow along on @cbtted on Youtube, Instagram, Tiktok or LinkedIn

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