Dear Gorgeous One,
Hide and Seek is a default strategy in my coping repertoire. It’s helped me survive those uncomfortable interactions with … gulp … almost every human being.
I’ve been unconsciously playing an extended version of this childhood game, but this year I realized that nobody else is playing with me. There are plenty of us out there playing the game, but we’re all playing in isolation. We’re hiding ourselves from everyone else and seeking connection, but these activities only serve to keep us occupied as we toggle back and forth. Meanwhile life is passing us by. Forgive me for including you in the “we” if this doesn’t apply to you.
Did you see me hiding in the “we” above? Tricky, eh?
Full disclosure about my recent favorite hiding spots: I haven’t published a new blog post in over a year (what, you hadn’t noticed?! : ) . The manuscript for the book I wrote last year sits neatly tucked inside my backpack, just waiting for the 5% re-write that would enable it to be sent out into the world. The mentoring work I’ve been doing with women has been placed on hold since last Fall. Yep, I’ve been hiding since then. Fucking long time to hold out in my hiding spot, wouldn’t you say?
In a flurry of urgency from external sources, I conveniently put my own projects on the back burner and moved everyone else to the top of my priority list (against my own principles.) I collapsed the space I had created for myself and my own heart’s work so that I could get lost in the avoidance and busy-ness of my hide and seek pattern.
Hiding worked then, but not now
In the past, hiding has allowed me to feel safe, to fade into the background and become invisible when the risk of someone judging me or criticizing me for my viewpoints or beliefs was too much to take on for my seemingly fragile soul. If you consider yourself highly sensitive and/or cry at commercials and other tender moments you know what I’m saying. You can notice the slightest expression of disapproval, observe the most subtle roll of the eyes, or incremental shortness in response. It can feel excruciatingly painful for us to feel even the slightest rejection, so hiding ourselves is one way to mitigate the risk of pain. The risk of rejection taps deep into the emotional strands inherited from a time when being accepted by your tribe meant life or death.
Some of us learned that it felt better to cover up the parts of us that others couldn’t quite accept. After a lifetime of covering myself up, the result feels like a hazy, thick outer coating that’s hard for me to penetrate. While originally designed to protect me, it’s now restricting my movement, preventing me from being my real self, connecting in a deep and meaningful way and showing up with my unique brand of genius.
Episodes of visibility
Here’s the kicker, I’ve had episodes of visibility in the presence of actual real people and it’s felt amazing.
During these times, this outer layer has been completely removed. There’s nothing between me and another. Sometimes it’s when life is throwing a ‘hammer’ at me and cracking the crusty layer right off with a painful challenge or experience. Other times it’s in the presence of warm-hearted humans who are so incredibly accepting and loving that all of the protection just melts away. Still other times it’s been when I mustered the courage to share what was going on for me that I would have normally kept hidden.
Each time I experience these episodes of visibility, I notice that the one key thing that is required of me is a willingness to be incredibly real about what is going on in that moment. When I’m willing to stand there and be real with another, without worrying about being judged or rejected, I’m holding myself open and it creates the conditions for connection.
The most vivid example of this was at a local Starbuck’s last winter. As a challenge from my coach, I agreed to approach everyone at Starbuck’s and interrupt what they were doing to offer them a candy cane. This was a practice of ‘crazy wisdom’ and an antidote to an emotionally charged experience the week before. What I found was that when I offered the candy cane with a question of ‘would you like a candy cane,’ it was typically rejected. However, when I led with “I’m trying to get over my fear of talking with people,” nearly everyone accepted the candy cane, attempted to introduce themselves, smiled and even physically moved closer to me. This was such a stark contrast and the only thing I did differently was lead with vulnerability.
I’ve experienced this when speaking as well, that by offering up the tender side of me and laying it out there for the people I’m with, that I feel closer to the group and from that place, real connections can be made.
It’s in that same spirit of connection that I write this post today. As I step outside of my hiding spot to be more visible, vulnerable and real with you, I’m also re-launching my heart’s work out into the world. Just for the record, I’m also scared shitless as I think of this being available to anyone who has access to the internet.
I would be so honored if you would accept this dare to also come out of wherever it is that you’re hiding in your life. Be more visible even if you’re just testing the waters with little episodes of vulnerability and realness.
I have a hunch that this world can be a more welcoming, loving and supportive place if all of us sensitives just stopped playing hide and seek and started showing up!
From my liberated and empowered heart to yours,
PS: I continue to move through the situations where this tendency to be invisible shows up .Since this post was first written, I’ve published my book and my coaching practice is blossoming. If this is something you’re ready to move beyond yourself, consider this your invitation to join me for a masterclass that will kick off your own process and path to more visibility: