I love how I keep being delighted and surprised in my work.
Take for instance the example of my client Daffodil.
(That’s an arbitrary name I gave her for this story – and why not a beautiful flower that shows its lovely self in Spring, the season of renewal? I have had many beautiful souls with the same fears as Daffodil come through my door.)
She came to me because she wanted to get into action with starting her business. She has trained as a coach in a very specific niche area. She has ALL the tools, she’s certified, she’s done what she needed to do to open her practice legally.
But…. She just can’t. She’s hesitating. Not for one reason, not for two, not even for three. She could tell me around 10 or 12 different fears that are holding her back.
As we talked about them, each fear sounded logically unfounded. Of course. She knows that she’s not going to be in real physical danger if she “shows up and be seen”. Her rational side knows it.
But the fear is not coming from her rational mind. The message is from her emotional brain (subconscious mind).
Those fears sitting in her subconscious, are telling her things like
❖ I can’t publish a website – if it leads to no results, I’ll feel like it was a whole lot of wasted time and effort. Plus – it’s not safe to be out there.
❖ I can’t put my contact details on said website – it’s unsafe.
❖ What if I do a terrible job as a coach?
❖ I can’t have my photo’s on the website – someone will recognize me and report me to people I care about, and they won’t love me anymore.
❖ I’m afraid to share my story – I’ll be misunderstood and judged.
❖ I might have to do something like talk about my work publicly – and I want to be swallowed whole when I think about it.
❖ I’m afraid to look for clients – I’ll feel defeated if no-one comes.
❖ What if no client ever returns because I did such a bad job? I’ll feel rejected.
❖ And more
I have oodles of empathy and compassion for these fears. These fears are not uncommon in sensitive introverts. “Being seen” and “being visible” and “showing up” is hard for 90% of the introverts I’ve worked with. It was really hard for me, too in the beginning of my business – and it still sometimes is.
As introverts, we’d much rather be in the background – observing, noticing – than in the foreground, in the spotlight. (If you get shivers down your spine just thinking about it – I get it. “Spotlight???? Get me out of here!”)
There is something we can do about it. Those fears arose for other reasons, rather than from the single source “I’m an introvert”.
We can’t change our introversion (and why would we, considering all the gifts and benefits to the world???). There are specific neurotransmitters and brain-paths that are at work in the brain of an introvert.
However – we CAN do something about the ‘irrational’ part of the fears that completely stop us from taking action.
I started off the article by saying my work surprises and delights me. How?
I’m surprised (and not surprised) every time we find out WHERE to do some “cleaning out” of old hurts and rejections and criticism. We all have unique backgrounds, unique experiences that occur for each one of us in childhood.
It’s those childhood experiences mostly before the age of 6, where most of our beliefs and decisions about life were made. Up to around 6, a child is in a hypnotic state. They take in everything that happens as “the truth” – because they have no filters yet, no logical capacity and no way to make sense of events.
So if a parents criticizes them on a bad-parent-day, the child makes a meaning from it like “I’m just never good enough” or “I’m not lovable” or “If I speak up, I’ll be criticised”. For some kids with critical parents, it’s not safe AT ALL to be visible or seen or show up – their family of origin was not a safe place to be. They might’ve felt unloved, rejected and unsafe all through the growing up years. OF COURSE that’s going to keep having an effect.
Safety is everything to the subconscious mind.
So the fear about a website, a photo, no clients…. So many of the clients I have worked with have similar fears and misgivings before starting their business. I had them too and I can remember the feeling!
While I’m in one way expecting it, it STILL sort of surprises me with each client that we can ALWAYS trace back those current fears to events in childhood.
And what keeps delighting me is that step by step, we can clean out those old hurts. We can “nurture” the little people inside of us, who are still there. They’re just trying to make sure that they will be safe and protected from harm.
Do you recognize these fears in yourself, if you’re an introvert?
A quick word on judgment:
Because our world is set up mostly for extroverts, we very often hear things like “Oh you’ll be FINE! Just do it! Just jump in! Get over those fears, they’re not helping you!” and other such glib pieces of advice.
That might work for some. Nice try 🙂
Mostly, though, it’s absolutely pointless to tell the subconscious mind to relax. Because we do that advice with our conscious mind (prefrontal cortex) – and the fears and resistance to action is lodged in the subconscious (parts like the limbic brain, amygdala and periaqueductal grey). There is no communication between the two parts.
Telling us to get over it is not going to have the desired effect. It just makes us feel bad about ourselves (“Why CAN’T I just do it, like they can?”)
So… why CAN’T we?
Well, maybe because we’re all wired in different ways…. And your brain is different to theirs, and what works for them is not going to work for you.
If you’ve been blaming yourself for not being more extroverted and taking action like a champ, please drop that judgement. We can’t judge ourselves into doing! The judgement adds more ‘unsafe’ feelings.
What I recommend:
❣ Find a way to clean out old events that still have a charge around judgment, criticism, rejection, being seen and being unsafe. EFT is a marvellous tool for this exact purpose.
❣ Do that WITH someone so you don’t have to go the path alone. Feeling isolated is what caused parts of the problem in in the first place.
❣ Take action in TINY steps, small do-able things that keep you moving forward towards your dream or your business. So your nervous system doesn’t freak out, and you can start seeing the progress. Us introverts build confidence on the way – we don’t have to have it before we start.
❣ Find out what your STRENGTHS are – and build on that. It provides a beautiful confidence boost and will help you to know how to show up in ways that are authentic.
Liesel helps sensitive introverts to see their sensitivity as a superpower, love their work and practice awesome self-care so they can be energized and make a difference in a meaningful and fulfilling way. She helps them to overcome the fear of being visible, avoiding the spotlight and conflict, being ‘too nice’, perfectionism and procrastination.
She’s the author of “No Problem. The Upside of Saying No”, which is a handbook for those who struggle to say no, are overwhelmed and exhausted.
Click here to read about the book.