Not shaving off parts of our selves to become the person we think that others will like or accept.
Being Too Much
You are never: too sensitive, too serious, too particular, too______. What you may be is: more sensitive, more serious, more particular, more _____ than the people you're around feel comfortable with... Consider not being with them at such times!
So many times in earlier seasons of my life I can remember instantly and painfully contracting physically and/or emotionally when someone with whom I was talking and sharing my feelings told me I was: Too intense ("You make such a big deal out of everything, can't you just let it go?"). Taking everything too seriously ("Can't you ever lighten up?"). Being too compulsive about my space, my food, my plans ("You're so rigid! What's the big deal? Don't be so picky!").
Worst of all were those times I tried, for reasons of my own sanity, to check out my perceptions of peoples' vaguely hostile/angry/ upset-with-me energy ("I'm not feeling anything like that, you're really being too weird! I can't believe you really think that!").
I remember, too, many occasions when I've given my self a hard time for noticing what I'd noticed, feeling what I'd felt, saying what I'd said. I did this because my noticing, feeling or saying whatever it was clearly seemed to distress or threaten other people. Or, it seemed to give other people something with which to judge themselves. So many times in the past I've made my self smaller, dimmed my lights as it were, tried to be less or less likely to give offense.
It never really worked to help the other person feel any better about me or about the situation. And, usually, I would come away from the encounters filled with self-criticism: loathing my self for being who/how I was, for betraying my own truth/needs/self by my trying not to create circumstances in which others might feel discomforted or diminished.
It's taken me many years and lots of inner work to come to understand that when someone tells me I'm being too anything, what they're in fact saying is that I'm too whatever it is for them to feel comfortable around. And, I've learned that it's never okay to betray or abandon my self just because someone else finds it hard to be around me as I am in my fullness (of joy, sorrow, anger, confusion, whatever).
These days, I might feel sad, disappointed or regretful that they find it hard to be around my energy. I might even feel irritated or frustrated that they choose to judge my behavior instead of being able to acknowledge their own difficulties coping with what my being all of my self stirs in them.
Most of the time now, I'm likely to respond by letting the person know that I understand that they're finding my way of being problematic for them in the moment. I'm usually willing to listen if they want to talk about what their discomfort might be about in them. If they're unwilling or unable to engage at that level, I'm more than willing to consider leaving the shared space. Whenever staying in the shared space with another asks that I pay the price of abandoning my wholeness, I will without fail choose to leave and go be with my self.
We've all had many times in our lives when someone's told us that we were being just too something-or-other. Our most immediate response tends to be to constrict, to feel badly about our selves and our behavior. We usually move quickly to consider how we might stop our selves from being that too whatever.
Instead of this knee-jerk response, we can encourage our selves to remember the truth about such comments. Namely, that they are in fact about the other person's unease or discomfort with our behavior rather than about our behavior. Their judgmental comments are intended (not necessarily consciously) to get us to constrict our selves so that they can regain their preferred comfort level. It is not our job to comply.
When we shave off parts of our selves trying to become the person that we think the other will better like or accept, we can't help but know that who they then like isn't the who we actually are. And, in the process, we are our selves rejecting who we truly are. This diminishes us.
As we practice letting our selves just be who we are – all of who we are – we grow to more fully accept our selves. This is the acceptance we need most of all. It is this acceptance that can heal us. Consider hearing judgmental comments about your behavior as messages telling you something significant about the judging person rather than as conveying any truth about you.
And, consider practicing letting your self just be exactly who and as you are.