We start our life catching the attention of our caregivers to have our primary needs met—food, water, touch.
How they respond will shape our nervous system toward how easy or difficult is it to get what we want, how hard or how effortless it feels to be met.
In my practice, I hear it so often, “ I want to be seen and heard.”
Usually followed by, “I am learning to be more vulnerable.” “Now I say what I think. ” “I speak up for myself, but nobody listens.”
Whether the women I coach want to be seen and heard by a romantic partner, a group of friends, at the workplace, or on social media as entrepreneurs, the missing piece is the same.
And no theatre class, cathartic exercise to self-express, or intimacy building workshop can give it to you.
I’ll share with you straight away what it is:
Or to be more precise:
The feeling of legitimacy in your body.
This is the exact ingredient that will affect your body posture, the tone of your voice, or even the way your write a post with an energy which will pierce the noise—and reach.
Whether you share an idea or an opinion, you make a request, you present your project, you give a public speech, or you write, there’s a need for coherence between what you have to say and the way you say it.
It’s never the words; it’s the energy behind the words.
So here are a few steps to have this energy aligned with your words so that you can make the impact you wish to make:
Accept that you want attention.
Watch any belief you still hold, maybe from your family or your culture, that keeps you in the shadows and gets you frustrated.
Maybe you grew up with the idea that taking up space is arrogant, or in a culture where being visible (often especially as a woman) is dangerous. And work on that with a professional because if your nervous system registers visibility as a threat or as a sign of arrogance, it will always make you prone to finding resistance to express, ask, or post.
Signs of this can be:
>> Freezing when you want to say something and wondering afterward why you didn’t
>> Policing the way you dress following what people or society expect from you
>> Never going beyond a “no” when you ask for something and don’t get it or when you want to share your work or your art or your gift and get rejected
>> Hearing “I don’t want to disturb” in your head or “Who am I to ask/speak up/show my art…?”
>> Never asking
>> Always having an excuse not to post about your business/art
Remember, attention was crucial since the beginning for you to have your needs met. It’s a basic need, and everyone craves it. It’s the only reason why social media thrives.
Consider taking up space because the space to be taken is limited.
Ether might be infinite, but the amount of attention someone can give and the amount of information someone can receive and digest a day is limited.
So, if you don’t take up space, it will be taken by someone else.
Not necessarily someone more competent, more skilled, more expert, or more deserving. Just someone feeling more legitimate.
More legitimate to exhibit their art, ask for a raise, receive the love, you name it.
So why not you?
Be careful with vulnerability.
Forcing yourself to be vulnerable because it’s an intimacy builder is not always rewarding.
We get a bit confused these days between being vulnerable and what I would call some emotional pornography.
Both will bring a sensation of overwhelm in your nervous system, so what’s the difference?
It doesn’t come from the same intention.
Authentic vulnerability comes with a need to share that is bigger than any consequences that can result, and a willingness to risk a relationship for the sake of authenticity.
It’s different than unpacking private stuff to have others stick around, which I see a lot on social media these days.
Be curious about how legitimacy feels in your body.
When my clients say, “I have no idea,” I often ask them if they already stood up for someone they love—their kids, someone from their family, a loved friend, even a pet.
I can tell you my voice and my body posture reached people in the blink of an eye when I asked the employees of the nursing home to find my sick mum’s special shoes after seeing her swollen ankles with the ones they gave to her, when I defended a family member when their stepdad put them down, when I commanded the tenants next door who were lighting a fire for a BBQ in the pine forest to stop it right now!
I didn’t need to yell or be aggressive; this feeling of legitimacy lands as natural authority.
This is the feeling you want.
It will make you inhabit your body and your body occupy the space in the room.
It will give the thickness and the texture to your voice no one can resist listening to.
It will invite people to give you what you ask for.