Why being visible is scary, and 3 ways you can build your confidence
Being visible is one of the biggest fears my female clients have. And I know how debilitating it can be because I had it too.
You may assume that showing up on social media or talking in a group is hard for you because of how you look, or maybe you’re having a bad hair day or you haven’t got your face on.
You might think you’re shy, not good at talking about yourself or that tech is not your friend. But it goes far deeper than that.
It’s funny because I didn’t have a problem running meetings, or workshops or presenting to big groups….in person. But when I decided to do a little video introducing myself and my business panic set in.
42 pre-recorded outtakes and 7 hours later I had managed to post a video, but I look pale and terrified (check it out, that disaster is still on my Facebook!).
I knew I’d have to get over it fast because frankly there wasn’t enough hours in the day to do this every time I needed to promote my business and the stress was just too much.
In an illuminating Rapid Transformational Therapy session I finally understood what was going on for me. Sifting through my past experiences and subconscious beliefs, the root cause became glaringly obvious.
I believed it wasn’t safe to be seen.
My past was dotted with emotional and physical abuse, which seemed like the obvious cause. But it’s not that experience in itself that affects you, it’s the meaning you make.
And I had decided that I wasn’t safe, the world wasn’t safe, and no-one was coming to save me. So the best response my body could come up with was to stay under the radar. To be invisible.
I’m an empath which makes me highly sensitive to other people’s emotions and I can always tune into the energy of a room. I unconsciously read facial expressions and body language and that lets me know I’m safe.
So doing a live video to (what could be) hundreds of strangers that I couldn’t see was terrifying to my nervous system.
What’s this fear all about?
At the root of it is subconscious fears of safety, being judged by others, and a primal need to belong.
Being perfect and people pleasing are often traits of those who don’t feel good enough and want to be liked. There’s nothing wrong with this, we’re hard wired to fit in with the “tribe” as it’s how our brains make sure we survive.
Nowadays we’re subjected to a constant barrage of messages about how we should look. Advertisers know that to make us buy their stuff they need to tap into our insecurities and a need to compare ourselves to others and to fit in. No-one is immune to this, because they are planting negative suggestions directly into your subconscious!
Being open about what you believe in and talking about your views and opinions is a very vulnerable position to put yourself in. Because you don’t know how people will react, especially strangers. If you’re a people pleaser by nature, you’ll find it even more stressful.
Your past experiences, beliefs and expectations of others all contribute to how you’re wired to think, feel and respond in certain situations. In situations which feel like a threat to you, the same thought loops start up and your body is triggered to run the fight, flight or freeze response.
If you have visibility fears what can you do?
Maybe you hate having your photo taken and put on social media. Or you struggle to speak up in a group. Or you are terrified going on zoom.
And if you’re building a business, side hustle or even just a hobby project, not being able to share who you are on your website or social media, and confidently talk about yourself in networking meetings is going to stop you from achieving your dreams.
These 3 tips will help you understand yourself on a deeper level and help build your confidence so you can show up as your amazing authentic self.
1. Uncover your beliefs and thought loops
Getting to the bottom of your beliefs around showing up and talking about yourself is key.
Spend some quiet time reflecting on your past experiences.
How did your family culture or religious beliefs impact you? Were you able to have an opinion as a child? How were conversations handled in your home? What were your parents like?
Did you experience any trauma? Perhaps you were bullied at school or singled out by a teacher? How do you feel about yourself and your capabilities? Do you feel good enough?
When you get to the bottom of this you start to become more aware of your own thought loops, beliefs and triggers.
The next step is to really pay attention to the thoughts and feelings when they start. Because once you notice a loop that’s on repeat you can put some space in between the thought and the reaction.
Asking yourself “is this really true now?” can be very powerful and grounding.
2. Get Clear On Your Message and Prepare
Being prepared will give you more confidence when it comes to talking about yourself in a group or posting consistently on social media.
This means getting super clear on who you are, what you stand for and why you do what you do.
A lot of my clients tell me they don’t feel like they know who they are or don’t feel like their opinions are very interesting. Believe me that’s your mind lying to you.
There's a whole, amazing genuine person in there that has unique perspectives on life, and that deserves to be shared.
When you’re anxious and thinking about what to say when it’s your turn you’re not in the present moment which means you’ve missed half the conversation and cues and feel lost in the conversation. So having a few sentences prepared helps stop the worry.
You may get negative comments or people who don’t agree with you. And that may push some buttons. But equally you’ll find more like minded people drawn to your genuine self.
3. Edge Out of Your Comfort Zone
We like comfort zones because they’re safe. Our brains would love us to spend the rest of our life in a cave having a nice safe routine.
But the modern world doesn’t work like that, and really you don’t want to spend your life in a cave.
And the same time if you’ve got visibility fears it can be extremely anxiety provoking, so I don’t want you to rush out and do a live video and give yourself a panic attack.
The trick is to take small risks in a controlled way. Small manageable steps towards your goal.
You could walk around the house recording yourself doing little tasks like making a cup of tea. Use the voice recorder on your phone to get used to hearing your own voice. You soon get used to it believe me.
As a hypnotherapist I had to overcome that one pretty fast too! Nothing like hearing your voice booming out of speakers in a recording studio for 7 hours straight (I think that's a form of desensitisation therapy!).
Your mind learns what’s safe by repetition, so the more times you do something new and you don’t die (that sounds extreme, but that’s how your mind sees it) it will get marked as safe and your system will be less stressed the next time you do it.
“Don’t let your mind bully your body”
Do these 3 things and you’ll be well on your way to getting over your visibility fears.
Don’t let the past hold you back. Get in touch if you want to create deep lasting change through coaching or Rapid Transformational Therapy.