Have you ever wanted to speak up when you disagree with someone’s opinion but kept silent?
Have you ever offered to take the picture rather than be in it?
Have you been putting off having an important conversation because you are afraid of the answer?
Have you been waiting for the perfect time to quit the job, ask for the raise, start a business, take the vacation?
It’s time to stop holding your tongue. It’s time to stop shying away from the picture. It’s time to stop waiting or postponing. It’s time to show up and be seen.
Many times, we don’t want to make a scene because we are afraid of what others may think or we don’t want to rock the boat. Enough! This is your one and only life. Because we are still at the beginning of a new year, it’s a perfect time to show up and be seen.
Here’s four ways you can show up and be seen:
1. Let your voice be heard. Speak up. Say what you think and communicate who you really are and what you really believe. This is not “I’m right and you are wrong.” This is about choosing to express yourself with confidence. Simply be you and express your beliefs.
For example, I had a client who loved the company she worked for and but she was putting in way too many hours. She was doing over double the workload she was getting paid for. She saw a job opening that excited her but was hesitant at first because she “didn’t want to let anyone down.”
After coaching her through it, she decided to apply for the job. She got it and is sooo much happier. She leaves work on time. She has more time to spend with her family. She is genuinely enjoying life instead of just going through the motions.
Whether you are at a Super Bowl party with friends or a dinner with relatives, you may disagree with a comment. This is your chance to speak up and share your opinion. This is not about becoming angry. This is about letting your voice be heard. Your opinion matters. What you say is valuable to others.
When we listen to others and share our own thoughts, we learn and grow.
In the beginning, this can be really hard because we feel vulnerable and feel like we are being judged. It takes courage to speak up. If you are someone that rarely speaks up, take baby steps. Strengthen your confidence muscle. Start asking for what you want with small things.
Ask for your dressing on the side without apologizing. Ask for the booth instead of the table by the bathrooms. Ask your spouse to help with the dishes or your kids to pick up their smelly socks on the floor. Lose the guilt. You don’t have to do it all. Stop apologizing! Ask for help.
2. Be confident in your decisions. No more, “I don’t care.” “Sure, whatever.” Make clear decisions.
What do you want to do this weekend? Go to the movies. What movie do you want to watch? Frozen 2. What meals do you want this week? Chicken pot pie .
When my kids were little, I remember being so overwhelmed and stressed that I couldn’t make simple decisions. I couldn’t decide what I wanted for breakfast. I would stand looking in the fridge or pantry with lots of options but not being able to decide which one to choose. One thing I know for sure is this indecisiveness is deadly because it starts leaking into other areas of your life.
When you develop a “it doesn’t matter” or “ I don’t care” attitude, it hurts your relationships and prevents you from taking life-changing opportunities.
There are two decision-making habits I see most often: teeter-tottering back and forth, making a decision but then doubting yourself and changing it, and becoming paralyzed with fear of making the wrong decision that you stay in the same place because it’s safe.
Let me remind you, this is your one and only life. There are no do-overs. Each day is a gift, so start making your decisions with confidence. Trust yourself.
I was coaching a group session and the women were sharing about how they teeter-totter when ordering at a restaurant. They read through the menu and can’t decide what to eat or they ask others at the table what they are ordering which leaves them more indecisive.
I encouraged them to start reading the menu and only pick two choices, then pick a winner from the two. Stick with it no matter what other yummy things you hear your friends order.
This may seem small and simple, but it strengthens your confidence and helps you start trusting yourself. If you are so afraid to make a decision because it might be the wrong decision, then you will miss out on your very own life.
Just like Wayne Gretzky says, “You will miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.” Decide that you are in control of the decisions you make.
Some will be amazing and put you on cloud nine. Others won’t be as amazing but they will be learning experiences. The last thing you want to do is live with a feeling of regret.
3. Set clear boundaries. This is about saying yes to the things that will fill you up, and no to the things that won’t.
Paulo Coehlo says it best, “When you say yes to others, make sure you are not saying no to yourself.”
Start by figuring out the WHY. Why are you letting people step over your boundaries? Am I afraid that if I say no, that person will not like me? Am I afraid that I will let someone down?
Each day, there are always a zillion things to do. We all know there is no such thing as an empty “to do” list. It’s ongoing. However, realize you don’t have to do everything you are asked to do. Do the things that bring you joy and drop the guilt when you say no.
I had a client at one of the retreats I held who told me her boss expected her to work through lunch. She hired me to work one-on-one with her and through our work together, she realized she deserved to take a lunch break. The work would still get finished. She would meet all the deadlines. She had to set the boundary. She had to speak up for herself.
Also, if you say yes to something but then you are complaining about it, that’s a sure sign you should have said no in the first place. Chances are, you weren’t thrilled about it from the beginning. Pay attention to the things you say you will do. If you say yes, make sure your thoughts and your heart are in the right place.
If you offer to volunteer your time at an after-school activity or local charity, be excited about it. Enjoy it. Notice all the ways you are helping others. Notice how good it makes you feel. Focus on the joy you are bringing to others and getting yourself.
4. Be kind and loving to yourself. Has someone ever said “Cute dress you’re wearing!” And you’ve responded with, “This old thing?” or “I got it super cheap at Target.”
These comments diminish your confidence. Instead say, “Thanks! This dress is comfy and it makes me feel good.” Or “I love shopping at Target! I can find clothes that are trendy and affordable.”
Start listening to yourself. Catch any self-deprecating comments you are making and replace them.
Start noticing where you are in your photos. When you take a photo with your family or with a group of people, where do you stand? Do you purposefully put yourself in the back row? Do you stand behind someone so they are covering you up? Do you offer to take the photo so you are not in it? Stop hiding! Be seen.
I remember being out with girlfriends and we would take a group picture and then we would proceed to nitpick it apart.
“Look at my hair. It’s sticking up.” “Look at my stomach pooching.” “Look at all my wrinkles.” Ugh!
We often have this tendency to see all the things we hate instead of all the things we love. Let’s change that.
Start noticing the things you love about yourself rather than the things you don’t. Instead of focusing on physical appearance, notice all the love and joy in the photo.
Years ago when I ran my first St Jude half-marathon, I remember posting a picture and thinking “What a mess! My hair is all over the place. I’m all sweaty and gross.” The next year, I changed my perspective. Instead of focusing on my crazy hair or my sweaty shirt, I focused on the fact I just finished running 13.1 miles. I felt super strong. I felt powerful. I felt joyful.
Starting now, pay attention to how you are deleting or toning down your life.
How are you shrinking back? What decisions are you postponing? What are you waiting to happen before you take action?
Showing up and being seen can truly transform your life.
Amy Wagenknecht is a Certified BARE Life Coach who helps women and girls build confidence, become mentally and physically strong and detox the things holding them back so they can live their biggest, bravest life. Visit amywagenknecht.com or call 314-369-8333.