As women, so many of us have a hard time being seen. It’s certainly something that I’ve struggled with over the years. It has been safer, I thought, to fly under the radar. We’re so used to being caregivers and caretakers that it’s scary, really, to be seen and to connect with and share what is innately nourishing, empowering and true for us. In being seen, too, we put our vulnerability way out there and risk being judged and criticized for being our biggest, boldest and most beautiful selves.
As 2020 kicks off, I’ve decided that I’m done shrinking into the shadows. I love helping other women reach their goals and live their potential. It’s time for me to do the same thing for me. I get to be seen, too. And, it is scary. It’s been scary. But, it’s due time.
I was talking with my mom last week about being honored as one of the 25 Most Powerful Women in Colorado by the Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce. I’m thrilled and humbled, of course, to be noticed, seen and honored in this way, but that thrill also comes with trepidation. In talking with Mom, I remembered being put in the Sweetheart Court in junior high, which classmates voted on. I remember thinking it was so nice and I felt so happy. And then the girls—some of which were my close girlfriends—got mean. Something that I should have felt happy about became something that made me feel sad. Even then, the message I got was that—whether we choose it or not—being seen comes with big risks. We risk ridicule. We risk judgement. We risk vulnerability. We risk uncertainty. We risk pain.
Brené Brown, one of my favorite teachers, talks a lot about vulnerability and how it’s through our vulnerability that we can authentically connect with others and live as our most whole selves. In her bestselling book, Daring Greatly, she also talks about being in the arena. Essentially, Brené’s point has to do with letting go of criticism, which is inevitable, from anyone who is not actively in the arena with you. If they don’t have skin in the game too, there is no need to absorb idle and oftentimes mean, irrelevant and unnecessary commentary.
I firmly believe that, particularly as women, we need to support each other. But, that’s not how our culture is designed. Rather than engage in sisterhood, supporting and respecting each other, we’ve been taught to complete. Yet, in doing so, we all shrink. We’re afraid of growing too tall for fear that we might be cut down. If we perform at the top, we, especially as women, risk being exposed and “different,” and many people can’t handle different. We become a target for other people’s ridicule and opinions and the subsequent suffering that comes with being an empathetic soul. So, rather than rise, we cower, living outside of and under our inherent potential.
No More Not Being Seen
The good news is that even in our scarcity culture—that there’s never enough for all of us to go around—I’ve noticed a shift. I talk and work with women everyday who have had enough of the patriarchal society that permeates our culture and makes and enforces ineffective beliefs about women’s lives and how we feel about ourselves. The women that I talk with report feeling more connected to each other and to themselves. No more Mean Girls—remember that movie with Lindsay Lohan? When we’re mean to each other, we’re essentially being mean to ourselves and taking womankind down with us.
I say it’s time to break free. A lot of sisters are joining me on this quest, and I invite you, too, to get into the arena with me and Brené and all the other fabulous ladies who are ready to be vibrant and vulnerable as we explore our beautiful potential, live authentically and give ourselves permission to be seen for all that we are, do and give.
After a lifetime (or more) of conditioning, I get both personally and professionally how hard it can be to put our needs first and to willingly allow ourselves to be recognized and seen. Again, I’ve been here many times. It’s scary, but it is so possible. And, in order to support each other, it’s important—necessary, really— that we take good care of ourselves first. This is an overdone and redundant analogy, but so true. In order to help and support anyone else, we need to first put the oxygen mask on ourselves. Here are a few tips that have helped me claim me and my big, beautiful and bold self.
Breaking Free: Five Tips To Empowering Yourself And Being Seen
Boundaries. Boundaries. Boundaries. How can you set and maintain boundaries that support you and your best self? If you struggle with boundaries, like so many of us, I suggest adhering to the following. Oprah says, “doubt means don’t.” I also feel that “maybe means no” and that “if it’s not a hell yes, it’s a no.” This last one is a great one for all you single, dating ladies out there!
Give yourself permission to do what you desire to do, rather than what other people (and society) desire you to do and be. Slow down. Listen to your heart. Let it guide you. The heart knows much more than our cognitive mind.
Let go of other’s opinions. If people who are outside of the arena have things to say about you, let them. But, let it go. You know who you are and what you’re doing. Don’t let unsolicited criticism and critique put you down. Get a copy of Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements and work to live by the tenants he outlines in this fabulous and practical book based in Toltec wisdom: Be impeccable with your word; Don’t take anything personally; Don’t make assumptions; Always do your best.
Don’t get stuck in making decisions. This can be a tough one, especially for all you ladies out there that struggle for perfectionism. But, no one is perfect, and we’re called to make decisions everyday. Thinking and rethinking them can get us caught in a loop. Instead of worrying about a decision, just make it. Call it a good decision and move forward.
Allow your big, beautiful, bold self to be seen. Step out of the shadows and into the brightness of your life.
If you’re still struggling with being seen and living as your most authentic and empowered self, I can help. I offer coaching for women locally in Denver and all over the country online. I invite you to contact me today to schedule an initial meeting.
And, look out for Breaking Free Of The Paradigm Part 2 in a couple of weeks in which I’ll discuss how we can best support each other as women.
Here’s to being seen!