All I’ve ever wanted is attention. Whether it was the attention of my peers when I was acting in a school play, the attention of my parents when they were in the storm of an argument, or the attention of boys and men to tell me how beautiful I was - the need to be seen and heard was as vital as having food and water.
Indeed, the desire to be acknowledged and to creatively express ourselves is hard-wired into us.
And as much as we are drawn to being seen and heard, we also fear it. We play a game of Jekyll and Hyde – we want attention, and then we don’t want it. Why? Because we have memories of when that attention felt dangerous – was dangerous.
I slip into my Mr. Hyde when I remember the humiliation of having the entire school laugh at me when I was six because I pee-ed my pants on stage, or being caught off-guard when I was asked to speak to a large group and ended up stumbling over my words. Or the time when I expressed my love to a man only to have him cheat on me; and then there was the terrifying memory of my first grown-up party at the tender age of eighteen and the joy of feeling beautiful that night and getting the attention of someone who dragged me into the basement and tried to rape me.
None of this attention felt safe. And sadly it closed me down, dimmed my light, and left me fearful of showing up too full of myself, too confident, and too sensual.
And I know I am not alone. I work with so many women who want to be seen and heard and share their message and their work, but who have the handbrake on afraid that they will be judged and criticized. Some of our memories remain dormant - ready to be revived.
Our life experiences explain why we block ourselves – why we shut ourselves down from being fully expressed. They also explain how our personalities get formed.
These were the stories that formed me over the years – how I got to become this insecure woman called Linda. And for every time I heard my mother say: don’t be so full of yourself or she wears the pants, it makes perfect sense that my ego latched onto ways for me to protect myself – to hide out, play small, and diminish myself. I learned that being an outspoken and self-expressed woman wasn’t safe.
When we bring awareness to the truth of how we got to be the person we are today – how we made up all of these stories with the help of our parents, teachers – the patriarchy – it explains why we turn down our dimmer switch.
This is not about blame, and neither is it about me digging deep into my past and spending a lifetime over-analyzing WHY things happened the way they did, but a conscious awareness of how I innocently tried to protect myself. I can look with no judgment and see how It all makes so much sense. And more importantly, feel compassion and understanding for myself and for the forces that were at play.
I have spent a lifetime hiding my voice and dimming my light – hiding from the world, but especially from myself - only to wake up and discover that in doing so, I had also shut down a life that held so much potential.
Imagine if we reclaimed our voice. Imagine if we dropped the need to be perfect and good. Imagine if we stopped trying to fit in and be a pleaser. Imagine if we lived in the truth of who we really are. Imagine being the person we really are before the world told us who to be.
Let’s do this for ourselves and in so doing, lead the way for others to not become buried in the first place.
If you would like a rare and special video of an interview I did with Michael Neill on how to take our personal handbrakes off, then click here - it's free: Enjoy.