Written by Teagan Pringle
For my whole life, I have constantly been my own worst critic, the person constantly in my own ear whispering, “this isn’t good enough; you aren’t good enough” and often downplaying everything I have ever pursued, felt, and desired in my life. I have always constantly scrutinized myself in the worst ways purely filled with self loathing, and self hatred. It took working through this with a counsellor that I realized I was constantly minimizing myself and my actions in the worst ways, and preventing myself from ever fully being content.
Minimization is a type of deception involving denial, coupled with rationalization in situations where complete denial is implausible, and is the opposite of exaggeration. Minimization is often downplaying the significance of an event or emotion.
Having a minimizing manner about oneself can make it incredibly challenging to battle mental illness, but is something many people with mental health issues face. I constantly belittle and minimize not only the negative feelings that arise, but the positive ones as well. This can make it incredibly challenging to openly talk about how I am feeling and what I need at any given time. A life full of self-minimizing has made me accustomed to believing even my worst lies to others that minimize how I feel.
Despite minimizing sounding purely to be a negative attribute in my life, it has actually comprised many of the traits I have, and me to be the person I am today. I love volunteering, and helping those around me has always been a passion of mine. But without minimizing through out my life, and constantly telling myself that enough, is never enough I wouldn’t be involved with half of the volunteer organizations that I am. It has also encouraged me to push hard in my athletics, as I never felt that anything I did in any game, or training session was ever enough. Despite allowing me to heavily pursue everything I aspired for in my life, I never understood or learned the concept of self-care, and even if I did, my minimizing probably would have prevented me from doing it. This led to me constantly “pouring from an empty glass” and never allowing myself the time to reenergize or give myself credit for the hard work I was putting in. Minimizing everything in my life made me always want to do and be more. I minimized everything I had done thus far, and was always reaching for more, but this was causing me to downplay every accomplishment I was ever achieving, and anything good in my life.
On the opposing end of attributing to who I am in relation to positive traits, minimizing has also created many negative, bad traits, and impacted me negatively when it comes to love. Although having some wonderful romantic relationships in my life, they have also at times been incredibly messy. Reflecting on the concept of minimizing I have learned how un-beneficial my self-minimizing has been in regards to love. I have never felt worthy, I have never felt deserving of love, not only by my significant other, but by anyone in my life. This makes it pretty challenging for a person to be happy, and have someone love you when you don’t feel like you deserve it.
An example of self-minimizing, one that I personally struggle heavily with, is as simple as receiving a compliment. Although the compliment may be genuine for something such as doing something well, working hard, or a compliment about my appearance, I will often completely dismiss it. Saying to myself, ‘they are just being polite and nice, but do not really mean it’ and minimizing anything and everything as nothing. With minimizing comes thinking about your strengths as if they are nothing, they do not count, no one cares about it, it does not matter or it is unimportant.
“It’s like looking through the wrong end of a telescope, shrinking everything to smaller and lesser than it is.”
It took until one of the biggest days in my life thus far as a young person for me to realize how much I had minimized about my past and future. As I stood eagerly on the side of the stage an overwhelming sense of anxiety took over my entire being; but for the first time in as long as I can remember, the anxiety was due to purely enjoyment, pride, and relief. “Teagan Jayne Pringle” the announcer recited as the applause and small bouts of cheering erupted from sporadic placements throughout the UPEI gymnasium. As I shook the multiple hands reaching out towards me, and accepted my Bachelor of Arts degree, I finally understood, that this degree, and graduating from university was a bigger deal than I had ever really made it out to be. I beamed with pride as I finally understood that it was okay to celebrate aspects of ones life.
Learning to slowly break down the wall of self minimizing takes a lot of hard work through open discussion, self love, and simple daily routines. One of the simple tasks placed upon me to begin this process, is genuinely saying ‘thank-you’ to all compliments I receive. Although this may seem completely ordinary to some people, it’s a huge step for someone battling overwhelming thoughts of self minimization. Don’t be afraid to flip around the telescope and see the world in proportion, don’t blow things up out of all proportion or shrink your positive actions out of all existence. It is unfair, damages your self-esteem and keeps you feeling negative.
Many people go through unfortunate events in their life that has caused them to begin to minimize. “Inside every nice person I ever met there is an angry damaged soul, fighting tooth and nail to keep that side hidden”. But don’t feel like you need to hide, or minimize who you are. Be you, and trust that ‘that is enough’, ‘you are enough’.