How The Habit Of 'Minimizing' Could Be Why You're Never Sure Of Yourself

by Irene Koutsidis

I’ll never forget the first time I understood what it meant to minimize a situation. It was a moment I wouldn’t forget because it was a moment that finally made me understand myself, and how exactly I handle issues in my life.

Since I’ve gone away to college and found a new life and a new place to call home, I’ve realized the reality behind my minimizing. I’ve grown to accept this is my mind fighting me, not my judgement.

In fact, my judgement is the one thing I don’t question. And with enough effort, I can face my problems rather than minimize them.

But the truth still remains: I am a minimizer. Minimizing is when someone literally turns a typically major situation into something less than what it is.

That doesn’t sound too bad, but in actuality, it can destroy your personal well-being. From the outside, my minimizing can look like a lack of a lot of things: self-respect, worth and even a knowledge for what’s going on around me. In fact, it can make me appear rather delusional to the common eye.

The truth is, it’s exactly the opposite. I know too much of what is going on in my life, and I will do anything to protect myself from it. Screw me once, shame on you, but I’ll brush it off like it’s nothing. Screw me twice, I’m already numb to the feeling.

You call it stupid, but I call it my greatest defense. I won’t point the finger on any particular person in my life, but I know exactly where my minimizing stemmed from.

It stemmed from people I’ve looked up to who would make their lives as they knew them crash and burn into pieces, and then they'd return to rebuild the bridges as if nothing ever happened. You can look at this as strength on their end. Their ability to revisit a situation and aim to fix it seems like something only a person with a certain amount of strength can do.

But in reality, it comes down to this: If a vase broke into a million pieces, and you were able to go back and glue it together, would you? Or better yet, should you? Or, would you just end up cutting up your hands in an effort to put something back together that really should be just swept up and thrown away?

Chances are, you’re going to toss that vase to minimize the clutter in your life, and then you'd go on a search for a new one.

A minimizer doesn’t see the new vase as an option. A minimizer sees something that — with enough time and effort — can be restored without having to make any new investments. A minimizer is scared of what he or she doesn't know.

The truth is, everything gets a little damaged sometimes, and sometimes, it isn’t as good as it once was or could be. But, the vase wasn’t cracked or chipped; the vase shattered.

So, after a lifetime of watching the people I know and love constantly set fire to their lives and putting it out when they were ready to get back to reality, minimizing what I would see, hear and feel became my very best defense.

If I think about it now, it was a pretty good one at that. I didn’t numb the pain by taking drugs or hiding out on the streets. I just pretended like everything around me was less than what it really was.

At the time, I didn’t know I was minimizing. I just knew I had always seen worse than what was in front of me or heard worse than what was being said. So basically, I boiled everything down to “no big deal.” I was wrong.

Up until college, my life was that vase that tipped over too many times, and eventually, it was just bits and pieces holding themselves together. Before my realization, I could tell you I never told a friend or boyfriend what I really thought about something she or he did that hurt or offended me. I probably let a lot of shady comments and unjustified treatment slide because all of it didn't seem “so bad.”

I’ve compromised my well-being to save other people. Any boy I’ve ever dated has gotten away with a lot more than I’d ever like to admit.

Every time people hurt me, I always turned the situation onto myself. I convinced myself it was my job to get over what happened and put the pieces together because the other person seemed “fine.” So, why can’t I be?

Rather than sweep up the pieces and get a new vase, I would rather sit there and put my last breath into something I couldn't change. I’d rather deal with a situation than search to find a new one.

It’s obsessive and destructive. It’s everything I’m not.

I’m a minimizer. I hurt myself by making major things appear minor in an effort to move on from the pain instead of facing it.

I’m not a minimizer because I am weak. I’m a minimizer because I’ve felt a lot more pain in my life, and I can’t bear to admit to myself when something hurts.

I can’t forgive and forget and move on from situations because my obsession with fixing what's broken sits in my subconscious. It eats at me every time I think I’ve found a better place or better state of being. It tells me to go back to the comfort of putting pieces together, no matter how much it hurts.

The obsession is what hurts. The obsession with constantly having to convince myself I do or don’t feel a certain way is the biggest battle I face every day. It's what keeps me up at night, and it's my biggest vice.

On the outside, it looks like I would always choose the new vase, the new path, the new friend, the new love or the new place over the worn road and shattered glass. But on the inside — in the darkest corners of my mind — I am a minimizer.

So, for me, standing up for myself and making decisions on what to do next in my life is hard. It is the furthest thing from effortless, but I have come to a place where I can separate my logic from my emotions and continue to move forward.

It just took a lot of self-discipline and trial and error because in the darkest corner of my mind, there will always be a scared, young girl obsessing over broken pieces that can’t be fixed.