Mar 112019
 
Reading Time: 26 minutes

How can you be visible to others when you are keeping yourself invisible to yourself?

The series of Women and Visibility is a journey through the challenges women in the 21st Century face in our path to fulfillment or when we want to share our gifts, embody our purpose or live our brilliance. In any of these instances, being visible is a necessity. But being visible elicits potent fear in women. This series is my attempt to describe why and to explore ways in which we can address this challenge so that we can free our radiance, unfold our potential and express our genius.

In Article 1: The Hunger that Devours our Visibility,” we address the hunger that both, pulls us towards becoming visible and sabotages our capacity to be visible.

In this article, I want to explore the underbelly of women’s invisibility: when we are invisible to ourselves.

When we are invisible to ourselves.
River Shapeshifter: Digital collage by Maria mar(c)

Lights off Center

In the first article I referred to a ceremonial performance I did last year for an audience of change-makers, artists and activists.

The venue was an amazing cultural cafe that offers very unique events and the occasion was a festival with the topic of liberation.

If you read Article 1 you know how surprised I was when I entered the venue and could barely see the main performer because the center stage area had no light. The light instruments were focused on the musicians in the periphery while the center performer was in the dark!

Since the setting was a collaborative effort of the performers themselves, it seemed meaningful that they were leaving center-stage –the most visible position on stage– in the dark.

This should not have surprised me, however. Not with the profusion of women performers in the group.

Women so often leave ourselves in the dark. No. Worse. We proactively crawl into the shadows. No worse. We turn the spotlight towards the nearest male.

Really? Really!

During most of the aforementioned performance, most of the central performers were women poets, singers and storytellers. They occupied center spot. And during most of the performance, they spoke in the dark.

As I watched, this speaking from the dark seemed like a brutal metaphor for the way in which women’s voices are kept in the background, discredited, stolen, minimized and devalued —even in the 21st century.

I know this is about how we keep ourselves in the dark. But I want us to start by acknowledging that our fears are not unfounded or invented like a child’s bogeyman.

Even without looking at our past, there are very real and present reasons why women are terrified of visibility. So let’s take a quick look at undeniable and proven gender biases that keep women’s voices in the dark.

In a recent New York Times op-ed Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant pointed out that when male executives speak up, they receive 10% higher competence ratings; when female executives do the same, their ratings from their peers are 14% lower. Similarly, when male employees offer ideas, they receive higher performance evaluations; when women offer the same ideas, managers’ perceptions of their performance remain unchanged.”
https://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/11/opinion/sunday/speaking-while-female.html

Take a minute to do the math. If males are rated 10% higher and females 14% lower for speaking up, the difference is 24%. This means that females who do speak up are evaluated 24% lower than their male counterparts. And this is in the 21st century, at a time when the popular perception is convinced that we have achieved women’s equality.

But women’s voices are not just subject to gender competence bias. They are also subject to patriarchal definitions of power and leadership that generate a bias against women’s communication style.

A research report by Grant Thornton UK LLP chose the example of communication to illustrate the disconnection between what women leaders want and what the corporate mindset sees as leaders. Here’s what happened when communication was observed within gender differences:


“While communication is seen as the most important attribute of good leaders by both sexes, women are more likely to perceive this skill in terms of listening and engaging in two-way dialogue, while men are more likely to focus on broadcasting messages”


https://www.forbes.com/sites/dinamedland/2016/03/07/todays-gender-reality-in-statistics-or-making-leadership-attractive-to-women/#395b76b76883

Women tend to see communication through a focus on relationship-building, which is a Sacred Feminine Gift (both in women and men).

But the patriarchal definition of power as control has created a leadership bias that leadership is about giving orders (like in the army) and holding authority over others.

While we believe ourselves to be superior to other species, our leadership behavior is not far from wolves —sometimes even less sophisticated! He who speaks more and louder and is more aggressive is seen as stronger, as the alpha male and therefore the leader of the pack.

It is no wonder then that we subconsciously believe that women and receptive people of both genders— who tend to listen more than talk— are less powerful than those who bark orders and keep control of the megaphone.

DO YOU RELATE?
You do not talk just for talking, so when you decide to talk you have something important to contribute. How ironic then that your words are less appreciated because people have already labeled you shy or weak based on the fact that you listen more than you talk or that you don’t join the shouting matches!

Here’s a quote from a women’s coach describing her experience as a receptive good listener and selective talker:

“I am someone who’s listening more than speaking most of the time. When I do decide to speak, I want to be able to contribute something of value. .. BUT… I’ve been sidestepped so many times in my personal and professional life, because people think I’m weak… because I don’t join the ‘shouting game.’” (Anonymous)


Barring Visibility

In the performance there was an interesting prop on top of the piano. It was a 2’X2’ representation of prison bars. The prop was a visual statement on mass incarceration.

It did not escape me that the scarce rays of light falling on the woman telling her story filtered through this cell —barring her further from direct visibility to her audience!

Maria Mar and Tamra Plotnick in “Love that Kills 2”
a performance about violence against women, 1991.

Now that we know how women’s voices are kept in the dark by gender bias and patriarchal definitions of power, let’s go within to see how we keep ourselves in the dark.

Remember that I was performing in a multi-media piece by pianist Trudy Silver entitled “Where’s the Outrage?” As part of this piece, I was delivering a shamanic interpretation of the poem “ROAR,” by Puerto Rican poet and activist Cenén Moreno.

This poem was featured in “Breaking Ground” —an anthology of Puerto Rican women poets and writers in New York edited and created by Dr. Myrna Nieves and published by Editorial Campana.

The shamanic interpretation highlighted the alchemical potential in Moreno’s poem by adding a Medicine Pase after each stanza. This Medicine Pase is a sound and energy movement to heal the wound described in the stanza.

In Article 1, I described what happened when I read a stanza about being an unwanted child. But there was another stanza that elicited a strong and unexpected audience response. The stanza reads:

ROAR

I WANT TO ROAR

TO THINK I WAS TAUGHT

TO BE LAZY

ABOUT TAKING CARE OF MYSELF

For the Medicine Pase in this stanza, I stretched my arms outwards, palms up, to receive chi from the universe and then caressed my arms upwards with the palms of my hands, bringing the energy towards my heart so that it could circulate through my body.

Remember that I was acting as the “cauldron” for the collective body. Whatever I was doing with energy in my body was being received by the body of each person in the room, provided they chose to participate.

Imagine my surprise when this simple self-care message was the ONLY Medicine Pase in all the stanzas where the collective body faltered.

My first attempt to move energy up my arms met with a stuttering energy flow. What was causing the stuttering?

The minute I asked this question I felt the answer as a strong resistance in the collective body. I felt a sort of vacuum in people’s awareness and therefore in their willingness to move the energy.

When I tracked down the resistance, I felt that they were stuck on the pain of the words I had just read —like a fly on a spider web. Most participants had not moved into the Medicine Pase, so the energy was not flowing in the collective body.

I did the Medicine Pase again, but when I stretched my arms out, many participants in the audience extended their own arms to give ME energy instead of taking it for themselves.

It took impeccable intention and conscious opening of the Heart Chakra to allow the energy to move through the collective body into the collective heart.

Energy Practice to Open the Heart Chakra and calm the nervous system.

I don’t know why it surprised me that self-care was the hardest challenge in the poem. I know from experience that it is often the hardest challenge in the lives of women and activists.

We often feel that we are selfish if we give ourselves anything: time, self-care, things that make us happy and even our basic needs.

So here’s the metaphor:

Self-neglect is the greatest prison we face as women in our path to fulfillment.

  • If we refuse to give ourselves energy, care, attention, love, resources and nourishment; then we are starving our body and soul, denying our physical existence.
    • Can you see how this choice is connected to being invisible? To exist on planet earth we need to have a physical, 3D reality, to be tangible, visible and audible. Not honoring our basic physical and emotional needs leads to weakening our visibility.
  • If we are constantly berating ourselves, focusing on our weakness and “failures” and looking for the little thing we did less than perfectly instead of the many good things we’ve done; then we are starving our value and authority.
    • Our voice is linked to our identity and character strength. “Persona” means “per sound” shamans work on the strength of our intention to give our voice the frequency and volume that allows it to travel through the universe. When women feed our weakness with our attention, we literally weaken the strength of our intention and our voice to be heard in the universe.
  • If we deny ourselves recognition, avoid naming our value and refuse to celebrate our achievements, then we are dimming our radiance and diminishing our gifts.
    • In repressive regimes people often avoid speaking or writing about the truth in and around them for fear of being censored. They wind up censuring themselves before anyone else does. Are we as women doing this to ourselves when we deny our own recognition for fear of being censored?

Self-effacement is the consequence of self-neglect.


Self-effacement is the consequence of self-neglect.

A recurring theme among women is the resistance to do the things that make us happy.

  • “I love to dance! Yet I keep denying myself even a few minutes of dancing a day.”
  • “Singing makes me happy, but every year I sing less. It’s like I’m punishing myself, but I don’t know why.”
  • “I procrastinate giving myself what I need. The only way to do it is by joining a group or getting an accountability partner.”

The image of the prison cell became a metaphor for the contraction of our cells as we shrink our presence through self-neglect.

Shining Undercover. I was hiding while center-stage!

Shining Undercover

At this point I’m taking a detour down Memory Lane to my own Invisibility Story as a performer.

I’ll share my “Show, don’t Tell” right now, even if it means walking onto the spotlight. Ja!

For most of my adult life I have been a performer. After my thirties, I was not only a performer. I was the producer, director, creator and main performer in my own productions.

I was center stage.

And I was hiding.

How can this be?

Oh, it’s easy, as many female performers will tell you; you can hide in plain sight. In fact, you can hide while being center stage… and you don’t even have to turn off the light!

I remember one of my proudest moments on stage. I was in my twenties and I had created such a fantastic make-up for my role in Lorca’s “Blood Wedding” that when people went backstage and saw me without make-up or costume, they could not recognize what character I had played. I was so proud of this!

I never questioned what could be so good about not receiving recognition for my work. Someone deep inside me felt sad and invisible. But wasn’t that the whole point, to be safe?

Safe from what? Looking back, invisibility granted me safety from rejection.

The audience jamming the dressing rooms was congratulating everyone. When they reached my naked face, they furrowed their eyebrows trying to recognize what character I had played… and I just smiled.

As they moved on, I felt a bittersweet victory. Yes, my makeup and acting were so good that they could not recognize my face.

But in not recognizing my face they were not able to give my talent its due recognition.

I was that afraid of being rejected!

And why would I not be? My own family had mocked, devalued and rejected my gifts.

I had paid the ultimate price for being loyal to my gifts: the shunning of my family. I had been cast away.

So I became an undercover actress… even when I was center stage!

The fear of rejection runs very deep in women because relationship is one of our gifts. When we as girls are scolded for shining, assuming leadership or expressing our capacity with confidence or even for achieving success… we feel this punishment deeply and it haunts our growth.

This punishment increases as we leave our childhood, so that girls from nine to twelve years old go through a radical shrinking into invisibility.

“Mi victoria” (My Victory) Illustration by Maria Mar for Corazon Tierra’s poetry book Cuerpografias: Poemas para amar tu cuerpo, where Corazon tells the story of healing from anorexia and reclaiming her body.

“I came running to my mother, who was talking to the mother of a classmate, to show her the medal I had won,” Corazon Tierra shares. “She gave me one of her shame-on-you glances, and I immediately recoiled. When the other mother left my mom scolded me. ‘That was selfish of you, to flaunt your medal when her daughter did not win anything’ my mother told me. To this day, I do not remember any joy in having being number one. What I remember is the shame of being selfish.”

No wonder we begin a descent into self-neglect, self-effacement and invisibility. They are the demands made from us in exchange for acceptance.

While boys get rewarded for raising their hands, winning and excelling, girls get punished, shamed and shunned.

Is it a wonder then that we not only speak from the dark, but remain anonymous even as we excel?

Shifting the Spotlight

So yes, there were lighting instruments on the stage area. But they were all focused on the periphery where the musicians were. Most of the musicians were men. But this is not their fault. In fact, the peer in charge of lighting was a woman!

As I observed this phenomenon, I was reminded of all the ways in which I have shifted the spotlight onto others.

My make-up tactic did not last long. After all, I could not always use fantasy make-up.

For a while I managed to stay invisible in my own productions by hiring a large cast and then focusing the photo shoot and promotion on them, leaving myself literally out of the picture!

When this proved unsustainable, I shifted the spotlight in a more subtle way: by sabotaging the promotion of my plays. I would leave little time to do it, so that I had excuses to do the bare minimum publicity.

I combined this with not taking the addresses of those who attended the performances, so that I did the opposite of what any professional performer needs to do: I resisted gathering a following!

Another way in which I see women shifting the spotlight is by hiding behind their shiny mates.

It is not uncommon to see this both in the artistic field and in the spiritual arena.

Hiding behind our Shiny Beloved:
It’s not a black or white issue

Here’s an archetypal story created through a composite of stories I have witnessed or heard throughout several decades, including some direct quotes from the women’s viewpoint:

THE SHINY BELOVED


When I met my now husband I was training as a minister while I developed my own healing system using song and story.

I helped him in his first business steps because I already had an active business as a healer.

He was sort of lost when we met, seeking spiritual direction.

He liked the philosophy in my ministry and joined our community. After a while, he took the ministry training and became very enthusiastic, accelerating his development.

Meanwhile, I got pregnant and fell behind, so he stepped forward and opened his own business to take care of the family.

Afterwards, he finished his ministry certification and I decided to stay with the kids during their formative years. When I finished putting them to bed, I was too tired to study or to pick up my business, so I let myself slip.

He became a leader in my spiritual community.

And now, I was invisible.

When I would say something, people would look at me as if I had two heads. Moments later, he could say the exact same thing, in nearly identical words and he got fawned over BY EVERYONE. This happened again and again.

I lost my confidence and became the invisible one. No one saw me when I was with my Shiny Beloved.

It was not his fault. It was me who fell behind. It was me who stopped shining. It was me who did not finish my ministry training.

It’s not a black and white thing. I recognize that I often hide behind my Shiny Beloved. It’s almost as if I weave and Invisibility Cloak behind which I fall back into my Comfort Zone.

But I also recognize how much easier it was for him to step into the light, assume his authority and be recognized and heard. He’s a natural leader, a loud and proud one, even though he is also very sensitive. I have the desire to lead in a quieter way, which is not always seen as leadership in today’s society. Even when I was at my highest, it was not as easy for me.

I recognize that sometimes it is about gender bias and sexism.
But at other times, I can recognize my own fear and how I crawl into the shadows and let him lead and shine while I take a back seat.


So far, we’ve seen how gender bias and patriarchal power constructs keep women speaking in the dark, so to speak.

And we have seen how women make ourselves invisible through self-neglect and self-effacement.

We have also explored how women can shift the spotlight and even go undercover even when we are center-stage.

And we have seen the fears behind these tactics: fear of being selfish, fear of being punished and fear of rejection.

So what can we do to address these fears and step into our visibility?

Turn the light on yourself…. and let your light shine through!

Turn on the Lights!

When others see us as weak or less credible because we do not talk as much or as loud as others, how do keep our confidence and stand in our authority?

Do we turn off the center light and keep talking from the darkness, dimming our voice, message and impact?

Or do we stand in our self-authority, cherish our gifts and talents and find the way to keep sharing our gifts?

My personal answer is…

“Turn on the lights!”

Back to the performance.

When my turn came to take center-stage, I had already spotted a lamp with three lighting fixtures, one of which was shining on Trudy’s piano.

“I need light,” I told Trudy. “Can we share this?”

Trudy immediately moved the lamp. I worked the angles until one lighting fixture shone on her at the piano and the other shone on me.

It was not easy. I could hear my Shadow Talk.

  • “They are going to say that you are an egotist.”
  • “Do you think you are better than those who spoke before you?”
  • “I’m just lighting the music stand because I need to read.”

But I acted impeccably —even forcefully— because I wanted my intention to be strong and clear.

What others may have seen at that moment was a woman preparing her performance space, taking due space, placing things where she wanted them and focusing the lights on herself.

These were my External Actions (actions to change our circumstances).

But my Internal Actions (energy, intentional or emotional internal movements) went beyond what I did externally.

  • I was making myself visible.
  • I was making my contribution clearly accessible to my audience.
  • I was cherishing my gifts.
  • I was giving my contribution its due value.
  • I was freeing my brilliance.
  • And I was refusing to speak from the dark.

And by doing this for myself and my gifts, I changed the game.

I invite you to take External and Internal Actions to make your gifts accessible and your shiny self visible.

I invite you to turn the light on yourself!

Break free!

Take off the Bars!

“We have spoken about the prison of oppression and about literal imprisonment,” I began as I shook loose the prop of the prison bars that had stood both as a symbol of mass incarceration and as a veil between the speaker and the audience.

“Now we are diving deeper. We are going to remove the prison bars in our own cells. The Tiny Stories, learned limitations, fear and shaming that has been embedded in our energy patterns, in our cells and in our DNA.”

Trudy and one of the musicians came forth and helped me removed the prison bars —which was a poignant moment of collaboration in one’s liberation.

As a master improvisational actress I was using the available prop to make a transition into the poem.

But as a shaman, I was taking a deliberate Alchemical Action to transmute the entire gestalt of the collective.

I refused to speak from behind bars… not only because the bars had become a metaphor for self-neglect and for allowing our authority and brilliance to be constricted… but because in a festival about liberation I refused to keep the bars in place and let the audience go home with such a defeatist image in their hearts.

Here’s what I know.

In the majority of cases, the prison bars standing between us and our potential are not external. They exist in our psyche as inherited fears, expectations, false beliefs and interpretations that bar our possibilities and potential.

But even when we face oppressive circumstances… even when we are in a physical prison, our Personal Power can only be caged by our own choices and perception.

  • If you believe that power is control over your circumstances, over the means of production or over others; then what I just said is a lie. If you are in a physical prison you obviously do not have control over your external circumstances.
  • But if you believe that power is your very Presence irradiating in the world, bringing all that you are and truly have to share with others; then this is an undeniable truth.

That is why Nelson Mandela was able to lead a country from a tiny prison cell and made his imprisonment a powerful time not only for organizing a movement, but for growing emotionally and spiritually himself.

I invite you to take those bars off.

Shift from Fear to Delight!

Shifting from Fear to Delight

Start by witnessing how your fear of visibility is triggered by voices and beliefs, stories and expectations embedded —like archives— in your psyche. Track down when and how they are triggered.

As you notice that many of your visibility fears are triggered programs, explore what happens if whenever they are triggered you fully shift your attention to giving yourself love, care and delight. Especially shift into enjoying your gifts, talents and wisdom.

For example, when you think of participating in a local event and your fear is triggered, intentionally shift your attention to rehearsing your speech or contribution while fully enjoying it.

This shift of attention is a technique to reduce stage fright. It works by shifting the attention of the actress from “they are watching me” —which increases self-consciousness— to “I am telling their story for them” which shifts the POC (Point of concentration) from “me” (the actress) to the audience, thereby reducing self-consciousness.

I do this all the time in rehearsals. For example, when I was practicing the ROAR poem, I started hearing my Shadow Talk (those self-diminishing gremlins) with all their horrible “whatifs.”

  • “What if they think you are crazy?”
  • “What if they get angry at your woo woo stuff in the face of political oppression?”
  • “What if…”

I immediately began to listen to my own voice and to open myself to the experience I was creating, to feel its impact.

This allowed me to experience how powerful each stanza became when I added the Medicine Pase; which in turn allowed me not only to enjoy the rehearsal, but to feel the value of what I was doing.

Starve your Fear and Feed your Strength

Refuse to be constricted by inherited stories or learned limitations. Instead, feed your strength, beauty and talents every day.

Refuse to be stopped or swallowed by your fear. Instead, the minute you catch yourself feeding your fear by giving away your power to it, shift into feeding your strength and your value.

Shift from Humbug Humility to Peacock Humility!

Here are three daily practices that help you to do this shift:

  1. Feel how needed and important your gifts are to you and to humanity. Shift from Humbug Humility that keeps you playing small to Peacock Humility that celebrates and shares your gifts with the world.
  2. Give yourself permission to enjoy your gifts, talents and skills until you can feel their benefit for yourself.
  3. Then shift into feeding your gifts by sharing them with others. Start with friends and groups that feel safe and increase your sharing. When we share our talent or knowledge, it grows and expands.

Walk Through Fear

Feel afraid… and do it anyway. Do it imperfectly, but step forward.

Take that prison cell prop and detach it from the instrument of your creative expression.

Take those prison bars and ripped them from the place of honor where your gifts, your truth and your authority should stand.

Alignment is the prerequisite for transformation. Align yourself emotionally, spiritually and energetically with your gift, your truth, your wisdom and your Sacred Self.

You are an expression of The Divine… a holographic drop of divinity raining upon this earth at this time for the evolution of humanity and planetary unfolding.

Refuse to shrink The Divine in you into the fear-based stories you inherited. Refuse to shun The Divine by keeping your gifts behind the bars of your fear or learned limitations.

God’s Gifts


I remember a day many years ago when I was feeling weak and confused. I entered a church in the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

Hanging from a high pole and waving on the breeze was a huge banner. God was not subtle that day. In really big bold letters the banner read:


“Your talents are God’s gift to you.
What you make with them
is your gift to God.”

I know. You are terrified. So was I and still often am.

But do it anyway.

You cannot control your fear. Denying your fear hinders your healing process and is not empowering.

But you can walk through your fear.

There’s no easy way to do it and no science that can help you with it, but here are seven simple steps:

  1. Acknowledge your fear. Allow it. Feel it. Accept it with self-compassion. Do not judge it or shame yourself for it.
  2. Step back and witness it. Yes, you feel fear, but you are bigger than the fear you feel. The fear is part of you, not the whole of you.
  3. Step out and shift your self-perception from being the victim of the fear to being The Actress or Creatress in this act of visibility.
  4. Now grab that prison bar prop, that fear-based limiting story— with both hands. Acknowledge that —no matter how tangible, visible and apparently overpowering this prison cell is— it is just a prop. It cannot cage your Personal Power unless you let it.
  5. Then intentionally rip it off from the musical instrument of your voice and your message, your beauty and your radiance.
  6. Now stand under the spotlight, unbarred, unveiled and unhidden …
  7. Do your thing. Participate in whatever is going on. Speak your truth. Deliver your message. Sing your song. Express your expertise. Share your gifts.

I did it during this performance when I literally removed the prison bars.

And not only did I survive. We all thrived.

I could feel the entire audience ripping the bars from their Energy Fields. Living, breathing cells in living breathing bodies were being liberated and the radiance they emitted almost blinded me.

Constrictive energy patterns were plied opened. It was a beautiful miracle to behold!

The audience shifted from being overwhelmed and burdened with so much oppression and limitations to joining me in the removal of whatever cage was imprisoning them.

This shift revealed something to me:

There is a world-shaking potency in our fear waiting to be released and channeled into individual and collective transformation.

Just as Mandela transformed his prison into a center for dismantling apartheid, we can transform our fear of visibility into the stage for our leadership and the momentum for the change we came here to foster in the world.

Take off your anonymity mask.

Blow your cover!

I use very little make up when I go on stage now.

In fact, my preparation is more about stripping than hiding beneath cakes and costumes.

  • I dive into my fears and harness them as potent energy to charge my voice and actions.
  • I dive into my “whatifs” of all that could go wrong and make it a check list to insure we are ready to go on.
  • I dive into my doubts and Shadow Talk and embrace it as my humanity to have compassion and empathy with my audience.

I have learned that the best acting is not about pretending or masking myself, but about being; about fully aligning with and embodying the story or message.

I invite you to blow your cover.

  • It may not have escaped you that even when women shared their experience in this article, their voices remained anonymous by choice.
  • It may surprise you that even now in the 21st century many fantasy and science fiction female writers are still using male pseudonyms or initials that hide their gender in order to sell more because a female name diminishes their credibility in their genre, reducing their income.

If we keep being anonymous, how will we become visible?

History is overflowing with anonymous creators who were actually women who feared to give their names because they would be ostracized or their contribution would be diminished or even denied. We will explore this in Article 4: The Danger of Visibility, is it Real?

For centuries, patriarchy has insisted in using this supposed lack of female presence in history as proof of women’s incompetence.

This anonymity will not end until you and I end it.

Take off your anonymity mask.

Whatever you are doing to stay small or hidden in order to avoid rejection, mockery or retaliation…change it now into a visibility action.

Create an intentional and consistent program of actions —both External Actions and Internal Actions— to be fully visible as your naked, imperfect, in-progress human self.

  • If you are waiting to have the ideal equipment, time or team to create your videos, do it now with what you have.
  • If you are waiting to have every “I” dotted and every “T” crossed before you go out there to speak, dance, show your art or publish your book, do it now imperfectly.
  • If you deny yourself the chance to apply to the best jobs or your ideal project because you believe you don’t fully qualify, do it anyway. Give yourself a chance.

As the saying goes: “Done is better than perfect.”

This is especially true for women.

McKinsey did a study that showed men are promoted based on potential. Women on performance. I don’t fault the men for this, as I’ve seen too many women wait until they’re ready to ask for a promotion, while their male counterparts say, “Yeah, they’re looking for five years experience. I’ve got one. Good enough. I’m going for it!” Of course when they get it, their female counterparts are outraged.
Roberta Chinsky Matuson
Strategic Advisor | Consultant
LinkedIn Conversation

When women leave our gifts under the table year after year while we try to fix ourselves in isolation, we are allowing gender bias stories to steal our dream and potential.

One of the most challenging tasks in the path of freedom is to release the internalized stories and identities that diminish our potency and keep us oppressed. And we cannot wait for external conditions or for those in power to do it for us. They will not.

The only one who can free you is you.

Give yourself a Chance


My creative partner realized this some years ago when she kept preparing better and better to apply for the jobs she wanted and then realized that the guys getting these jobs were less prepared than her. She realized that women were missing opportunities because —like good girls— we strive to meet all the requirements while men just go for it, giving themselves a chance.

If you find it hard to do this now, practice three things every week:

  1. Own, feel, enjoy and name the value and benefits of your contribution to the world. Write it down. Say it out loud. Practice saying it to others. Feel it in your body. Enjoy hearing it in your voice.
  2. Say YES! to opportunity and say NO! to what you do not want. Again, you can play a scene in your imagination, go back to a real incident from the past and change what you did or role play with a friend. I recommend using enactment so that you practice with your whole body. Do it until your first response to opportunity is a resounding YES! and you can easily say NO! to ill-matching invitations.
  3. Embrace rejection. Really. Practice being rejected. Role play with friends. Keep at it until you no longer take it personally. Work until facing rejection becomes as commonplace and inconsequential as opening a door.

This is an area where your male friends can support and even train you. The Sacred Masculine has lots of assertive, resilient and go-getting responses that may be harder for us as women to activate, but are easily accessible to many men. So engage their help!

Come out of the Shadows!

Come out of the Shadows!

Would you like to be used as a shield by a loved one?

Imagine it right now. A friend or loved one is hiding behind you in order not to be visible, even though you both know that this is something she wants.

How do you feel? Do you like it?

Chances are it feels icky.

  • It may feel like she’s putting you on the spot.
  • You may even feel that you are being used.
  • It may elicit a sense of being burdened with another person’s responsibility.
  • It may even feel like you are being placed in an impossible situation where you can’t win. If you shine, the other person stays invisible. If you refuse to do it, the other person feels unsupported.

Hiding behind your friends, peers or your Shiny Beloved is not fair. It is not fair to you. It is not fair to them. And it is not fair to those needing your gifts and message.

I invite you to take ownership of your authority.

Step out of the shadows and step into the spotlight.

Refuse to give your power away to patriarchal definitions of power, assumptions about strength or weakness and fear of being punished, selfish or egotist.

Of course, this is easier said than done.

But it can be done.

Deepening your Sovereignty

We shamans work with energy and consciousness. Throughout the centuries, we have acquired many insights and even formulas about how these two elements work together. Here’s one such formula:

Attention =Food

What you feed with your attention grows. What you starve from your attention, diminishes.

One way to come out of the Shadows is by feeding your self-authority and standing in your Free-choice instead of allowing Habit-choices to keep you a prisoner of your fear.

Here’s what worked for a healer who has struggled with visibility for years:

Deepening your Sovereignty


I honestly think it all boils down to allowing the sovereignty of who you are to deepen more and more. From that place, the right people will find you, even as you deepen into that place. Folks who need to be where you are will find you and you will deepen to contain more and more.


Each time you allow your heart to shine its gifts and to contain someone, this polishes your heart more and more.


Then, another way to polish your heart is this… All that stuff going on outside of you, your partner getting more attention, sexism, thinking folks see you as weak, all those tender places in you that get hit when those stories get triggered, those are your places to bring healing to.


I still have places that get hit. I can get lost for a time, but more and more I remember not to go into the stories, into the swirl of emotion connected to them.


Instead, I take my focus off of the outside world, because I really truly get now that it’s not about anyone or anything outside of me. I hold the tender places in me —those places that things in the outside world are tapping on— in mercy. I ask to see what is there, how old am I in that place, what happened to me then, what is that part of me longing for?”
(Anonymous)

Alignment with my Sacred Self. Art by Maria Mar(c)2015.

Shifting your Alignment

For me what works is getting out of my own way.

This seems counter-intuitive to becoming visible, but it is an alignment action. I can align with my Wounded Self or I can align with my Sacred Self. It’s my choice.

Sometimes healing demands that I align with that in me which is feeling wounded. This allows me to dive deep into the wound to understand and heal it.

But in order to heal the wound, at some point, I must shift my identity. I must stand in my power as Creatress of my life.

If I am to stand in my authority and fulfill my calling, then I need to shift into alignment with my gifts, talents and value.

At those times, I let go of my ego and empty myself to be a vessel, a channel for whatever The Divine wants to express through me.

Enjoy it!

Enjoy it!

Another thing that works, and my favorite thing to do is… enjoy!

I love to play for transformation. In the same light, I prefer to enjoy my personal growth than to struggle through it.

So when I realize that I am hiding in fear and struggling with being visible in my brilliance… I simply shift my attention to having fun, to enjoying the interaction, the here and now, the adventure.

I bring all my senses into a place of pleasurable experience of the now, a state of mindfulness and creativity.

The moment I shift my senses to this state, I become both empty and full, visible and transparent, brilliantly myself and one with all that is.

Try it.

When you are fully immersed in enjoying an interaction your focus goes towards experience, presence, collaboration and creation; shifting from negative speculation, fear of rejection or self-judgment.

I invite you to step out of the shadows and to play in delight…so you can step into the spotlight.

The End


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Women and Visibility Article Series

Previous:

Article 1: The Hunger that Devours our Visibility. This article reveals how the hunger for acceptance that comes from not experiencing unconditional love has a dual effect. On one hand it propels us to become visible and on the other it sabotages our visibility.

NEXT:

Article 3: The Selfishness Détente. This article explores the Inner War of Self Vs. Others that women inherited from patriarchy and still face and how the fear of being selfish steals our visibility.

Article 4: The Danger of Visibility, is it Real? Reminding us of our herstory: how visibility has been dangerous for women through much of history. And how we are still punished for being visible–including results from recent research. Can we trust the world enough to come out? And how can we trust in a way that both helps us grow and takes care of the self?


Resources

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About Maria Mar

Maria Mar is a Sacred Storyteller and shaman who champions you to change your old limiting story to create the new story of your brilliance illuminating the world. She helps you awaken your magic, express your creative genius, embody your purpose and live your potential now.