Unleashing Your Authentic Self: Overcoming Shrinking Syndrome

Many women feel the pressure to shrink their authentic selves and this shrinking of self wreaks major havoc on their mental health and physical health, all the way down to the cells. Listen in as Danielle as she gives you exercises and specific support to empower you to live life abundantly, as your authentic self.  You get to belong.  

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Welcome to The Crying to My Cheesecake Podcast, where we are in pursuit of living life, abundantly not held back by our body size or symptoms, nor are we held back by our hurts, habits, or other obstacles in life. Learn the secrets to crush it in your health, wellness, relationships, and spiritual life. I am Danielle, your host and practitioner, and in this episode, We are diving into something many of my one-to-one clients and wilderness of wellness members struggle with, and it’s something I call the shrinking syndrome.

The syndrome is totally a Daniels, and I’ve seen how it affects our lives on multiple levels from the emotional wellbeing all the way down into the microscopic cellular health. Issues that we have. So we are gonna dive into and delve into the concept of shrinking syndrome, its impact on our mental and physical health, and most importantly, how you can break free from this grip and embrace your authentic self.

Many of my high level one-to-one clients come to me because they’re ready to drop excess weight from their bodies. While you may not have the same concern, you may. A lot of my listeners, a lot of my followers, and even a lot of my members in the wilderness of wellness, um, and my one-to-one clients, some of them don’t have a weight loss problem.

Like that’s not why they’re here working with me. But there is one thing in common that many women struggle with when it comes to achieving the health status that they desire, and it’s something that I feel like is underlining or underlying all of the issues. I’m actually learning about a lot of this stuff and the emotional piece of our health and wellness in my naturopathic studies for to become a naturopathic doctor.

And after reading a lot of the, the textbooks so far and taking a lot of the ding tests that are quite frankly, pretty dang hard, um, I am noticing there’s something called this shrinking syndrome. It is something that holds many of us back, especially when we don’t have a proper team around us encouraging us and holding us and holding our feet to the fire.

Are you ready for that secret though? The secret is the sneaky struggle behind all women’s health concerns is the shrinking syndrome. And you’re probably thinking, well, um, Danielle, I thought you were going to say sugar is the root of our cause or of our issues or weight issues or gut health issues or blood pressure, cholesterol, um, diabetes, all those things.

Sugar is not the problem for many people. It’s never about the food, and while refined sugars may be an issue for some women, I really like to pull back and look at the deeper issues going on because it really is never just about the food. The food is a side effect of how we are feeling. So let me try to define shrinking syndrome for you.

Shrinking syndrome is this, in my opinion, is this coping mechanism that we have learned over the years that we must shrink our body size, our excitement, our emotions, our desires, our passions, et cetera. For everyone else out there, for everyone else out there to understand us so that we can fit in. This phenomena is not uncommon, and many people, many women feel the pressure to shrink their authentic selves in order to avoid standing out, facing criticism or experiencing rejection.

It can lead to the loss of self-expression and personal fulfillment as individuals may suppress their true feelings and desires to maintain acceptance within their social circle circles or societies at large. This is huge. The term shrinking syndrome seems to encapsulate this idea that people metaphorically shrink parts of themselves to fit into the narrow confines of what is considered socially acceptable or socially expected or just expected.

Encouraging self-acceptance and embracing your unique qualities can be essential in breaking free from this coping mechanism and fostering personal growth and wellbeing. So let’s take a moment here. I just said that this is an idea of shrinking parts of yourself into a narrow confines of what is considered acceptable or expected.

And I’m wondering, when we think about this, like understanding this and, um, understanding this impact on us, think back to the time that you were ridiculed. Made fun of. You were ostracized. You were as you were shamed or told someone was disappointed in you because you behaved a certain way, not that you were doing something wrong necessarily, like you weren’t being a bad, or like you didn’t have bad behavior, but it was a behavior that was different from the norm.

I will go first. There was a time when I was in fifth grade. This isn’t the first time this happened, but in fifth grade, uh, I’m a loud person. I bet you couldn’t tell. I’m a loud person. I talk a lot. I laugh loud. I take up space. I’m a big girl. I’ve always been a big girl. I’m five foot nine and a half on a good day.

Um, and I am just a big, strong girl. So I take up space, but I’ve never had anybody make fun of me. Except my family, the family with whom I was raised, and I’m saying make fun of me in derogatory ways. And this one time in fifth grade, um, one of my friends, I won’t say his name, but he and I were in the exact same classroom our whole time in elementary school.

Sweet gentleman. He is a cop today. He’s a great guy. Um, anyway, so we were preparing for the end of the day and we had to stack our. Chairs, you know, our desk chairs on top of the desk so that the janitor could come in and sweep the floors for the day. I guess it was the week, whatever, while I happened to push my chair out, was clean up my desk and all of that.

And my friend, I almost said his name, my friend pulled the seat out from under me and everybody laughed. I was laughing. It was so funny because it was just, it was the perfect timing. It was hilarious. Okay. So my, my teacher was amazing and he just rolled with it. He knew I wasn’t upset. He knew that it was just a, a prank.

It was funny, it was whatever. And. I come home and told my mom about it, and my mom in her insecurity, which I know now in her insecurity, ridiculed me. She didn’t think it was funny, and I’m over here laughing, sharing with her this fun. The, what I thought was a fun story was not in that moment. I learned. I had to shrink my stories.

I had to shrink my life experience to fit in with what was acceptable to her insecurities compound that year after year, after decade after decade. It’s painful when you and I cannot live our, our out, our authentic selves. There’s a piece of us that’s missing, a piece of us that’s longing, a piece of us that wants to belong, but instead, we’ve been taught we have to fit in.

Now in my own journaling and study this past week of recording this, I learned that difference between fitting in and belonging. Fitting in means that you have to have a certain sort of characteristics to be like these other people. So you have to shrink yourself. You have to create yourself, chisel off pieces of yourself in order to fit in with people or with a group of people, whereas belonging.

Belonging allows you to show up authentically who you are and be loved anyway. Be accepted anyway. And so when we don’t have that sense of belonging, we, and we are forced to fit in. We start to have coping mechanisms fit in. We have this anxious bubble guts. We have this, I call it guilt gut, but it’s like this, this piece of where we don’t have access to our authentic self, to the truth of how we’re living, that we have to live for everyone else’s needs instead of our own.

And that can be inside your home or could have been inside your home. It could be something that society or culture has put on us, on you, on me. Or it can be something where we have just not have created this opportunity or not created an opportunity to connect with people because we don’t know ourselves anymore.

So this shrinking syndrome. Creates people that are trying to cope and get by and fit in and living only halfway, abundantly or half true. And I think it’s important for us to, to grasp this idea that, one, we’re not alone. Two, we don’t have to shrink ourselves. To fit in. We need to find places to belong, authentic places to belong, and we also need to think about these coping mechanisms.

So one activity I would like you to do when you’re done listening to this, or go ahead and push pause while you’re listening to this and do this. You know, as we’re going through or as you can, I want you to list out experiences like I just did. Experiences where you felt that you needed to shrink yourself.

To be who the other people they, who the they, the other people in your life needed you to be. And then I want you to go through and think, what did you do to cope with not being seen, your authentic self being seen and accepted. For me, it was food. And then when food wasn’t enough, I turned to alcohol.

When alcohol wasn’t enough, I turned to sex. And if you haven’t listened to that podcast episode, food, sex and Alcohol, Danielle’s story, you need to do that because that was very vulnerable and it gave you some insight of who I am and what I come to the table with. And I could totally shrink that too.

But that’s not being authentic and that’s not making an opportunity for you to connect with me. Because you also get to be seen. So take some time this week or um, during this time that you’re listening, just push pause and do that activity. List out some, act, some time, some experiences when you experienced that, you had to shrink yourself and tell me, or write down, I guess you don’t have to tell me.

I would love for you to email me about these things, but write down and grab hold of what are the coping mechanisms you used? To deal with that, because that’s a lot. And if you think about it, that’s a lot that we learned as children on how to navigate life. So then as we move forward, we have these coping mechanisms.

We’re learning to fit in, fit in with people because they need us to do that, to fit in this box that they understand there is this impact on our mental and physical health. When we emotionally suppress ourselves, it leads us to stress, anxiety, and depression. And there are studies actually that say that if people struggle with anxiety, they are also struggling with depression.

Like, I’m not sure I’m gonna have to find this, but in Naomi Judds, Book, um, oh shoot. I don’t remember the name of it, but in her book about her coming out and talking about how her mental health and all of that, um, she was talking about some research that was, that was saying anxiety cannot be present without depression, and depression cannot be present without anxiety.

There’s a spectrum that people that struggle with these things ebb and flow on, and I would say that that’s probably true in my life. I’m more anxious. But is that an anxiousness because of depression? I don’t know. I haven’t. Explored that and probably need to explore that with my therapist more. But, um, all that to say that these coping mechanisms and this issue of having to shrink yourself.

Can lead you to stress and anxiety and depression that are just literally boiling and bubbling at a low level at all times in your body. We know that stress and chronic stress, so let’s just say you’re OB obviously already at a low level of stress, which we would call chronic stress constantly there, just like laying there ready to bubble, kind of like lava just sitting there.

That right there, that stress on the body. Is creating inflammation in the body. Inflammation in the body creates blood sugar dysregulation. Blood sugar dysregulation causes diseases like heart disease, um, blood pressure issues, it causes diabetes, it causes all sorts of cancers and, and other things. So I’m not trying to scare you by any means because I do have a solution for you.

If you just hang on to the end of this episode, I do have some help for you coming. But I want you to know that this is not normal. This amount of stress and anxiety and depression that you’re carrying is not normal. It is common because it’s just how we get through life, right? I don’t want to be a common person, and I don’t think you do either.

Let’s let our bodies do what’s normal and what the way that God designed them to do is to heal themselves. So let’s work with the bodies. Natural abilities to do that. So what’s happening? And when we have that bubble like that, like I said, that lava is just sitting there and just kind of rolling around, kind of bubbling, kind of waiting, and then life is happening.

Like we’re not just here existing with this lava life is happening. Someone in Ohio cuts you off and doesn’t turn their turn signal. They’re turning or getting off the exit of the interstate. From the left lane and they just decide to whip on over and you have to slam on your brakes and your husband gets mad at you because you have these things in your rotors that when you push on the brakes that it goes, oh my gosh.

Anyway, stress is happening all the time. What if we could get hold of that underlying stress so that that bucket can start seeping out and sending that stress where it needs to go instead of just continuing to cause this inflammation in the body. I also wanted to speak about inflammation and how the body’s energy goes for, and cravings and all of these things.

So when we are inflamed, 30% of our body’s energy goes to healing that inflammation. Just like if you have a flu, do you know how tired you feel when you have a flu? That’s what probably how you feel when you have high stress and then you’re trying to cope with it and other methods and you’re craving things because you’re tired and, oh, I’ve gotta get Johnny to ball practice and I gotta go here and I gotta do that.

And I have, I have to be perfect for my husband. I gotta do this, I gotta do this. I got, and it all goes on and on. We’re in a recession in fi in our economy that’s underlying there too. All of that is causing flu-like response in our bodies. And so you are gonna be more susceptible to wanting your cr to wanting to give into your cravings and not be motivated to work out and not be motivated to cook your food and eat the good things.

But again, I have help for you coming, if you continue listening to the end of this episode. So our goal here in this episode is to break the cycle of this, uh, shrinking syndrome, break that cycle because how awesome would it be is if you’re a grandma listening to this, how awesome would it be that you could teach your granddaughter that there’s a whole nother way and that she doesn’t even know what shrinking syndrome is.

Or maybe she knows it and just like, why is she acting like that? Wouldn’t it be awesome to see women living out their God given roles in society and not being forced to shrink? Wouldn’t that be amazing? So we’re going to talk about how we can unleash and break that and start living in our authentic self.

And I say grandmas, but what about mamas? Mamas, you’re already dealing. I have brand new mama uh, clients. They are dealing with mom shame like no other. And I think it’s probably with the invention of TikTok and Instagram reels and all of that, that all they’re seeing is what? The, the picture perfect expectation is, and they don’t see how many takes it took to get that perfect reel or TikTok down there.

And so we have the, and then we have this in-between generation. That’s me. And it’s just, we’re trying to break free from that. We are trying to explore and find ourselves and give the next generations that freedom that we wish we had. So this, this episode is for everybody. It doesn’t matter how old you are, it doesn’t matter how young you are.

Let’s break free and live out our authentic selves. So how do we start this? Well, the first thing I said was to go ahead and do that. List out the two things, right? List out the experiences and then the coping mechanisms you have. The next thing, again, I have a resource for you at the end of this episode, so I have a resource for you that you’re gonna be able to download and go through and start using.

But the next thing I want you to do is to explore. Explore who you are. If you didn’t have to worry about judgment, if you didn’t have to worry about fear of somebody seeing you mess up, if you didn’t have to worry about being super small, if you could just go out, wake up in the morning and go out the door, what would it feel like?

What does it look like? What do you look like? What are you even doing? Would you be running your own business instead of working for someone else? Would you even be working at all? Would you be taking your kids to, to Walmart or the mall or whatever, what have you. Would you be going to climb mountains with your grandchildren?

Would you be learning a new skill? Would you not fear belly laughing with friends at the Cheesecake Factory? Embrace and find out who that person would be. And then I want you to think about, Some, some things you can do, some activities you could do that foster authenticity and growth in you. For me, I, for me, it is hiking, backpacking, learning a new skill.

These things give me joy and make me excited. Things like quilting, I love to quilt. It connects me to my grandmother, like the skills that she taught me. I love to cross stitch. My other grandmother taught me to cross stitch. Um, There was always something created out of hardships. There was always something.

Um, with my grandmother on my mom’s side, she had primary biliary cirrhosis of the liver, which is a non-alcoholic thing. It’s actually called fatty liver disease now. And she ha she died during a liver transplant. The liver and everything worked, but her body was just so tired and done. Uh, she died when I was in first grade.

First grade? Yes. First grade. And. She couldn’t get off the couch. There were very few days she could get off the couch. From all of my childhood. I remember she was always cold and she was always on the couch. And she would play Uno with me, but she also used that time to create something beautiful and it was her cross stitching.

That was something that she could do, and that’s something I think we’ve lost in our culture today. I think that’s something that we forget, that we are not so important, that we can’t create something fun. We can’t learn something new, a new skill, even if it means nothing, even if it’s not productive. Do I need another pillow slip?

No. Could I go buy one for much cheaper? Yes. But what is different in creating a pillow slip? A cross stitched pillow slip? Or I guess is it em bordered a pillow slip? What’s different is that my errors, my hands created that beauty. Yes. I followed a pattern. Yes, whatever. ’cause you know I’m gonna be following a pattern because that’s just the type of personality I am.

But I did that. And I think that’s important to understand that we need to embrace that personal growth, embrace that authenticity. Maybe it’s painting. One of my one-to-one clients loves to paint, but because life and this having to shrink herself into certain roles and things that she, culture and society and family and all the things had put on her, she stopped painting.

I have another gal that loves to, uh, do photography. She quit that because she thought that she became a mom. She had to quit. And it reminds me of that Roseanne episode when Darlene gets her period and she starts putting all of her, all of her quote unquote boy stuff in a bag. And it’s like, well, I’ve got my period.

I can’t do this anymore. Be the woman that you wanna be, and it’s okay. I was a tomboy as a girl, and I know why now, and I think I, there’s a podcast episode about this. I know why now, because I have two boys and have a girl and they love to get dirty. They love to go and roughhouse and have fun and we were not created on accident with our giftings and our love of creativity and all of that.

My daughter is more creative in certain ways than I am. She’s a beautiful painter, like literally artistic and I, she can go take one of her assignments for the day ’cause she just wanted to hang out with me while I was working out. And one day I just brought out some butcher paper and I said, and I brought out some paint and some like whatever.

And I said, go get things in the yard and make me something pretty. I wanna see something pretty today. And her expression of beauty. Oh, that unfiltered beauty that she brought to that. That page was her being able to get out of her head and create. So that is another way to help this, help get out of that box, that shrinking syndrome is to engage in something that brings creativity and personal growth.

The next thing I would offer you is practicing self-care. Now, self-care is not getting your nails done. It’s not a girl’s night. And people, people fight me about this all the time. Self-care in my definition is something that. Promotes healthy healing of the body. That could be a massage, that could be therapy, like mental health therapy.

Self-care. Could is, is eating nourishing foods, not choosing crap foods because you feel crappy. Did you ever notice that we don’t choose crap foods when we feel great about ourselves. We’re eating steak and baked potato or something fancy when we feel great about ourselves, but when we feel crappy about ourselves is when we eat crappy food.

Treat yourself like the, the, the worth that Jesus has on you for dying on that cross. Teach yourself or treat yourself in a way that would honor the innate intelligence of the body. Eat good food. That doesn’t mean don’t eat sugar because girlfriend’s gonna eating sugar often it means don’t eat refined crap.

Drink, drink water. You know, 70% of our body is water. And you know, the first sign of dehydration is thirst. So if you’re not drinking throughout the day and you’re already feeling thirsty, You are already de 10% dehydrated. Crazy, isn’t it? Take care of yourself. Practice real self-care, not just what culture says is self-care.

So what I would like to do and offer you, those of you that are here still listening, I wanna give you something for free. And you may have seen it on my Instagram, you may have seen it in my Lincoln Bio, whatever, but I wanna offer you. Specifically here as a listener, I want to give you my stress management protocol.

I wanna give you my stress management protocol because it gives you not only lifestyle habits to start incorporating. It gives you a habit tracker. And it walks you through like, Hey, start with the one that seems the easiest. Write that down, and let’s do that for a week. Then let’s have it stack. Once you’ve got that settled, do that habit and the next one for another week and so forth.

And if that is not easy for you or you are ready for the next step, I give you the next steps. I tell you exactly what is next. So you don’t have to worry about researching and thinking all of that. If you are interested in that, the, the link to the download is in the show notes, and I would love for you to get that.

If you have questions or you are concerned about something in that book or in the ebook, or you are wanting to just respond to this podcast episode, would you do me a favor and find me on Instagram? Find me on Instagram, and it’s at crying in my cheesecake and shoot me a dmm. I am in my DMM sending voice messages almost daily.

Honestly. You guys are amazing. I love having a full inbox just to talk to you because you know, something I think we forget is that health is relational. Having a good relationship with your practitioner team is going to change everything. It does change everything. Being seen and known and not forgotten.

Not just a number, not just a dollar sign. For a big old company, it’s huge. So I wanna invite you into my dms and I also want to invite you into my email inbox. If you would like to have a conversation about my one-to-one services or my Wilderness of Wellness services, please feel free to send me an email at hello at karin and my cheesecake.com.

I would love to meet you there as well. So with that, I just wanna say thank you for being here. Thank you for being a listener and I want you to know you are not alone.

Thanks for listening to The Crying in My Cheesecake podcast. I hope it encouraged you to make a next best step for your health. Take a look at the show notes for more information or other links I mentioned in the episode. And if you got to this point in the episode, come find me on Instagram and send me a DMM at crying in my cheesecake.

Tell me you listened to this episode and what you got out of it.

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hey, i’m Danielle

I love Jesus. I love my family. And I get joy from having a front row view of people growing toward their goals because of what I’ve taught.

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