The Visibility Paradox
Do you have fears around being visible? You are not alone!
Having fear of being visible is one of the most common fears I hear from my clients. And I belonged to the fearful tribe as well.
When I launched my first coaching business 14 years ago, I only worked with clients 1 on 1. No groups, that was way too scary. Imagine all those eyes on me, EEEK, NO WAY!
.And then social media came along. And the popularity of videos, Instagram stories, Facebook lives. It felt like a nightmare to me and I had a lot of FOMO going on. Everybody was out there showing themselves to the world and I wasn’t.
This fear wasn’t a new one. Back in my corporate days (long time ago ). I dreaded giving presentations, having to speak up in meetings, or making myself seen when there were opportunities to be grabbed.
The result was that I never was the one getting that cool project or that promotion I dreamed of.
Because I wasn’t the assertive one, the one who said: “Pick me!!”
It hurt to know that my fear was also one of the MAIN reasons why I wasn’t as successful as I could be as a corporate professional or as an entrepreneur.
And it also hurt when I saw everyone doing their videos on social media as if it was the most natural thing as brushing their teeth or putting on their makeup. It was painful because deep down I also wanted that. To be seen, to be heard, to have people follow me because they like my videos, and are inspired by my work.
And most of all: to be able to show myself to the world with so much ease and authenticity.
But I was too afraid. To be judged. To be criticized.
What if I forgot what I wanted to say?
What if my English wasn’t correct?
What if no one would watch, or even worse: leave after 2 minutes?
What if people wouldn’t like me and making myself visible would actually HURT my business?
It IS a big thing.
So, let’s not minimize or downplay this. I’ve had so many people (you know, those who do it with the same ease as brushing their teeth ) tell me to just go do it.
“Just sit in front of that camera and hit play. “It’ll feel natural in no time. Just practice.”
And while that is true, and I do believe that taking repeated small acts of courage does help to get over our fears, we don’t want to just force ourselves without acknowledging this fear, and these wounded parts in us.
Because all these scary things DID happen to us before.
Maybe it was mom or dad telling you to tone it down when you were just being happy and silly. Or a teacher making an ‘innocent’ joke when you raised your hand in class, and all the kids were laughing at you.
So, the fears are very real. We all have our scar tissue.
However, there’s something ‘funny’ going on here.
Because although we’re so afraid of what will happen when all those eyes are on us, there’s also a part of us that is very much LONGING to be seen and heard.
There’s still a younger version of us that craves the attention she never received. The little one that didn’t get met in the essence of who she is, who felt unacknowledged, not important, not worthy of attention. And as an adult we still remember this and feel the abandonment, the sadness, the anger and resentment whenever this theme gets triggered.
And here we have these two sides of the same coin, fighting each other:
“See me, but please don’t look at me”
It’s like two opposing forces within us that push and pull us in different directions, sending out very mixed messages.
This paradox not only affects your work or your business, but you may find it also shows up in your relationships and other areas of your life.