3 Ways We Minimize Our Power

3 Ways We Minimize Our Power! What’s wrong with that sentence? Other than being too wordy?

How about if I write it like this:

Throughout any given day, society sends messages to minimize our power and devalue our voices. Let’s not buy into those messages and perpetuate them. We are over apologizing, and “justing” and “I think-ing” ourselves to the detriment of our self-efficacy!

Which one is more powerful? Obviously the second one. We utter these three phrases over and over, and our brain internalizes the connotations. This might sound a bit dramatic, but I’m passionate about helping people see how these ubiquitous acts minimize our own power. You might be thinking, What the heck is she even talking about? Hang tight, my friends, because it might get preachy in here. I PROMISE, (bold proclamation, but I mean it) though, that you will find value in the details.

I’m sorry

Maybe you don’t do this, but have you ever noticed how many times people (especially women) apologize in a day? This drives me bananas. You might know someone, or do this yourself, who apologizes for alphabetizing something incorrectly at work, dropping a wrapper on the floor in your office, for bringing pretzels instead of Pringles for snacks on a playdate (ok, maybe that is justified), for not looking up movie times fast enough, etc., etc., etc.

Is this starting to resonate? Can you think of people who do this? Or do you do this yourself? Why do we do it? The thing is, we often don’t even realize we are “I’m sorrying” ourselves all over the place. When we say “I’m sorry” about trivial things, we are essentially minimizing ourselves and apologizing for taking up space. I know that sounds heavy but sit in it for a minute. That person that you were thinking of who apologizes 10 times a day – is he or she super confident? Or does the “I’m sorrying” translate into other areas of their life, too?

Sometimes people apologize for something that literally has nothing to do with them. You might say to your friend, “I’ve been swamped at work and am so overwhelmed because there are a million chores at home to do still.” In response, your friend might say, “I’m sorry. I should have asked if you need help with anything.” Or maybe you say to your mom, “The kids are driving me nuts and I only had privacy when I went to the bathroom, and even then, Julia opened the door to see if ‘mommy poop?’” To which your mom might say, “I’m sorry, I should have asked if you needed a sitter.”

What? Those situations had nothing to do with the friend or mom. You might be thinking, What is her deal? They are only being nice. And they are…to a certain extent. Please understand I’m not talking about occasional unnecessary apologies; I’m talking about serial offenders. You might be one of those people. I know this sounds harsh, but it’s important to flush this out to understand how we minimize ourselves in this way.

In the above examples, the person on the receiving end now must reassure the friend or mom that they did nothing wrong, that the situation is not their fault. This makes the situation about the mom and friend instead of the person who needed to vent and was seeking support. Do you see the subtle difference? Again, we are pinpointing serial apologizers here. When it’s chronic, we put the person on the receiving end in an uncomfortable position. They might end up feeling manipulated into reassuring the person over and over when the situation never called for an apology in the first place. If you are a serial apologizer, please understand how this might be interpreted. Serial apologizing minimizes our power and sends the message that we aren’t confident.

I’m not saying apologies are without merit. Of course they have value, but only if they are warranted. If we apologize six times in a day, then your “I’m sorry” is watered down and doesn’t mean anything. When you really think about it, how can you be truly sorry for dropping a fork at work and sorry for forgetting your spouse’s birthday at the same time? The “sorries” don’t match up. Use sorries sparingly, when justified, so that they mean something. If you have sincerely hurt someone you care about or made a mistake that affects many, then yes, you need to apologize. But accidentally bumping into someone? Not bringing dinner fast enough to your kids? Nope, not sorry worthy.

I’m just

We are “I’m justing” ourselves out of our own power. How many times have you typed the phrase “I’m just” in an email to colleagues, potential clients, or your boss? How many times do you say “I’m just” when you call or text someone? We do it so often that we don’t think about the implications. Any time we use the phrase “I’m just,” we are implying that we are bothering the person on the receiving end. For instance, “I’m just emailing you to follow up” or “I’m just calling to see what time.”

We are communicating that we think of ourselves as a bother and that the other person is more important. I know it sounds dramatic, but again, sit in that for a minute and reflect on how many times you use the phrase or hear someone else do it. Using this phrase doesn’t automatically equal a lack of confidence or necessarily translate into other areas of our life, but it does minimize our power. Next time you find yourself typing “I’m just,” delete it and rephrase!

I think

Using the phrase “I think” is along the same lines as “I’m just.” We don’t realize how often we do it, but it, again, minimizes our power. By prefacing statements with “I think” we are implying that we doubt ourselves. When we start a sentence with that phrase, it’s redundant. If you are stating something, then you think it, right? So, beginning with “I think” is unnecessary. If you remove the “I think” phrase, you will sound more confident. Example:

I think we should go with the red curtains because red is powerful.

We should go with the red curtains because red is powerful.

Subtle difference, right? Removing the “I think” doesn’t discount others’ opinions; it states your position more clearly. Like I said, we do this so often that we don’t even realize it, but now that you read this post, you will be more aware of it yourself and notice it more when others do it.

Remember, I’m right there with you. I used to use these phrases every day, but then actively worked to change the habits. Do you use any of these phrases? Do you know someone who does? Comment below. And click the link for a FREE download to help you kick these minimizing habits!

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As always, thank you for reading!