When she was younger, I’d let my niece win every race and tell her things like, “Wow, you run so fast, you’re a blur!” She was small and I was big, so I wanted to encourage her. Now that she’s growing up, she doesn’t like me to treat her like a little kid — what adult would?

Sometimes we dumb ourselves down, do less than our best, or act “small” so someone else can feel better about him or herself. Sometimes we even pat ourselves on the back for it. However, I’m coming to see that “playing small” to autonomous beings isn’t appropriate or helpful. In fact, it can be harmful both to them and the person who’s acting.

Little kids aren’t the same as adults; adults can sense when they’re being lied to. Acting small is dishonest, plain and simple. We tell ourselves we have the other person’s best interest at heart, but we must consider them very small indeed to be treating them like children.

We’re not helping others by pretending, and we’re not doing our best, either. So what’s the alternative?

At some point, we’ve got to start running fast so the little ones can see how it’s done. If you’re good at something, your prowess can be much more encouraging than an act. Rather than make yourself smaller, you could be making other people bigger! Pull them up! Respect them enough to challenge their performance, and everyone benefits. After all, wouldn’t you want the same sort of encouragement?

We can learn so much from each other. All we have to do is trust each other a little bit—trust others with the hard truth (that we don’t start out masters of cooking or computer programming or yoga); as a result, they’ll trust you with the same.

For more on the subject, check out today’s video.

After you watch the video, join the conversation happening right here. Use the conversation section below to tell me about your experience pretending. When are you the most tempted to act small? Do you know someone who treats others small? Does that sort of treatment make you feel better, or worse? How are you going to encourage others to be big, starting now? I’d love to hear from you.

Remember: You are bigger than ANYTHING that comes your way!

Cheryl

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