Stop Shrinking to Fit the Places You've Outgrown
Nina Herndon
March 21, 2023
August 16, 2023
Be Inspired

You cannot thrive when you’re just trying to survive.

These words from my therapist turned my world upside down. I couldn’t stop thinking about what she said. It became my mantra, my reminder, my truth. 

You cannot thrive when you’re just trying to survive.

This simple truth allowed me to put words to the frustration and conflict that had been building. It wasn’t that all of a sudden a switch flipped—the reality was, I was shrinking to fit into a place I’d outgrown. 

As an alcoholic in recovery for over eight years, I have to be willing to grow every day. Although, there are plenty of days when I dig my feet in because I’m stubborn and would rather complain about my situation than do something about it. But, recovery or not, my desire to grow is powerful - especially as I get older and become more at home in my own skin.

It seems simple enough to assume if we’re growing, of course we’re going to outgrow things. So why do we opt to stay small and simply survive?

Recognize Fear is Holding You Back

So why do we opt to merely survive when we have opportunities to thrive? For me, it’s fear. It always has been.

  • Fear of the unknown. 
  • Fear of failure.
  • Fear of letting people down.
  • Fear of embarrassing myself.
  • Fear of losing someone or something. 
  • Fear of being out of time.
  • Fear of succeeding and facing the question of “what now?”
Sacrifice: “an act of giving up something valued for the sake of something else regarded as more important or worthy.”

In another post, Finding Peace in the In-Between, I shared how in 2021 I quit my job (terrifying), things didn’t go according to plan (more terrifying), and then I ended up doing all these things I thought I “should” do because I was absolutely terrified. Do you see the pattern?

Fear is always hungry and never satisfied. It is the reason we make ourselves smaller to stay in a situation that no longer serves us. Whether it’s a job, a relationship, a friendship, a pant size, a belief, or a bad habit, when we sacrifice our peace, our time, our sanity, our joy, or our happiness—we’re really sacrificing ourselves.

Shrinking is Sacrificing

Over the years, I’ve tried to shrink to fit many things I’d already outgrown.

  • I held onto romantic and platonic relationships, believing I needed those relationships in my life - even though my so-called friends and partners were holding me back from where I needed to be. 
  • I held onto drinking normally believing it was impossible to exist in this world sober, but my drinking was making my life impossible. 
  • I held onto jobs where I was miserable believing people would be unhappy with me if I quit. 
  • I held onto clothes that no longer fit believing I needed to be smaller to be loved.
  • I held onto old beliefs thinking that I couldn’t change my mind about anything. 

In holding onto these things, in shrinking, I was sacrificing myself. In all of these sacrifices, I valued other people more than I valued myself. Today I know that nothing is worth sacrificing who I am. 

Is your peace, your time, your sanity, your joy, and your happiness worth less than the things that you’re shrinking to fit? If you’re in a place where you’re ready to step into the truth that who you are is in fact worth much, much more than the things you’ve outgrown, I invite you to stop shrinking. 

Allow Yourself to Grow Instead of Shrinking

  • Get honest with yourself. “You cannot thrive when you’re just trying to survive.” What comes to mind when you read that?
  • Start small. You don’t need to quit your job, throw out your too-small wardrobe, and break up with your partner tomorrow. Start by taking some time for yourself, whether it’s a short walk in the morning or a 10-minute guided meditation (like this one, Fear Unmasked).
  • Do something that scares you or at least moves you out of your comfort zone. Whether you want to go skydiving or make that phone call you’ve been putting off,  start somewhere. 
  • Define and re-define your own success. When we outgrow something, it doesn’t mean we’ve made a mistake. It means we’ve grown. Consider (or reconsider) your goals and ask yourself if what you’re doing is propelling you towards them.

I know this is scary. For me, it’s still scary. Sometimes it’s painful and uncomfortable and overwhelming and exhausting. But it’s also exciting and exhilarating and wonderful and life-changing. It ebbs and flows just like the rest of life. But it’s so worth it. And for me - my peace, my time, my sanity, my joy, and my happiness are all so worth it. What about you?

This blog is intended to provide helpful suggestions for self care and overall well-being. I am not a mental health professional. If you’re struggling I encourage you to seek the help of a professional. Find a Mental Health Professional | National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline: Dial 988

Share this Story

Nina Herndon

Nina believes that women have an incredible ability to help one another, and is driven to cultivate safe spaces for them to do so. Over the years she has helped her mom to grow Retreat in the Pines to reach as many women as possible and she currently serves as Managing Director.

Retreat With Us

All Women Welcome
No Judgments
No Expectations
Join Us