When Did You Start Hiding?

I started hiding when I was five years old and in my first school play.

"Sherold Barr" "When Did You Start Hiding"
artist: Erik Gecas

My part was a good one – a lady in waiting stationed right next to the Queen’s throne.  Before the play opened, each of us was introduced one by one in front of the velvet curtains.

So there I was, my little innocent five-year-old self, in front of these big velvet curtains, and then my older brother got his friends to boo.

I froze, I wanted to hide and disappear.

The play started.  I inched my way behind the queen’s throne and started to crouch so I wouldn’t be seen.  I wanted to run and hide and not stand up and face the audience.

This story has been flashing through my mind in the last five years as I’ve become my own brand – promoting my own work instead of being a PR maven behind a Fortune 500 technology companies.

Each time I go for a certification or I’m “on stage” and being evaluated for my work, this experience is triggered and the vision of my shy five-year-old self appears.  I squirm in my seat, I want to run and hide but I don’t.

I hold her in my thoughts with such compassion.  I mother her.  I tell her that everything is going to be fine and then I go for it.

Here’s the real deal:  you have to be willing to sit with this discomfort, stop hiding and practice courage.  Because if it’s not comfortable there is something there for you to work on.

Brene Brown, author of Daring Greatly, and a presenter of one of the most popular Ted TalksListening to Shame – says that shame is the fear of ridicule and belittling used to manage people or keep people in line. Brown says the counter approach to scarcity and never feeling like you are enough is what she calls Wholeheartedness, which at its core is vulnerability and worthiness.  When each of us can face uncertainty, exposure and any emotional risk and believe that you are enough.

Courage starts by allowing yourself to be seen and by showing up.

If you want to get your art out there, speak from the stage, make a video for your business, marketing yourself or your product, you have to first recognize your vulnerability then learn to work with it.

Take small steps and practice courage.  This is how you expand your comfort zone.  Tiny, consistent action will take you to your dreams.  Fear + action = Courage.

Brene’s book is outstanding and I highly recommend you read it.  Her personal vulnerability prayer is this: “Give me the courage to show up and let myself be seen.”

You can ask yourself, are you willing to do the thing you most fear even if you fail?  When you are 90 years old and sitting in your rocker on your front porch, will you be proud of yourself for being courageous?

As I get ready to send my book proposal to a publisher for feedback and review, I am practicing courage and being willing to suck at it.  If I don’t share what I’ve learned about fear and adversity, who will be the one person that might have practiced courage and been willing to mine their adversity for their gold (the gift of what you learned) and fear, which could be your soul calling you to your true calling?

My book is tentatively titled, Souls Revolution: How to Use Fear and Adversity to Live a Remarkable Life.   I am willing to be vulnerable with my own personal stories of how I have overcome fear and adversity.  I am willing to suck at it.

I am practicing courage.  I am holding my little five-year-old shy inner child in my lap and my adult self is ready to publish my book and start speaking on the stage again.  This time I am not going to hide.

What one thing are you practicing courage to do in your life?  I would LOVE to hear from you in the comments below.  Sharing your vulnerability is the first step.

  1. Hi, Sherold,

    John and I will be traveling to Italy for two months this Spring. I have a hard time being a passenger in a car. We will for the first time rent
    a car since we will be in Assisi for 3 weeks. I think we will pick it up and return it in Florence. I will probably have to close my eyes most of the time while traveling in it.

  2. Ginny – thank you for writing. We drive all over Italy and love it. You will get used to it. I love Assisi. Make sure to go to the monastery where St. Francis lived. The earthquake had damaged the cathedral last time we were there so it should be renovated now.
    We are sticking close to home (U.S.)this year. Write from there so we can vicarious be thrilled.

  3. I have been afraid of heights all my life. In 2008, my father took my sister and I on a trip to see his parent’s homeland, Switzerland. I decided that, if my grandparents could leave their families and brave coming to America, then I could get over my fear of heights. At the end of our trip, we got to do an ‘anything you want’ day. I went up on a mountain and rode the gondolas and lifts until I wasn’t afraid any more. I took my puppet, Clara and played peek-a-boo (they call it ‘cukoo’) and blew kisses and sang simple songs with children we met along the way. Although we didn’t speak the same language, Clara learned that laughter is the same in any language. It is a memory I’ll always cherish.
    Congratulations Sherold. Keep going! You’ve already done the hard part, writing the book and getting it published. The greatest fun is yet to come! You will meet new people and make some life-long friends! Best wishes!

    1. Jackie – first of all, thank you for continuing to be COURAGEOUS. I Love, Love, Love how you walked through your fear. I love your story about your puppet Clara and how this fear was transmuted into learning that laughter is Universal.
      P.S. I took the step to send it to a literary agent for her to review it. Now I will wait to hear what she will say. This was a huge step. I will keep you all posted on progress and the process.

  4. I’ve spent years hiding behind my need to earn credentials, acronyms after my name and training after training to be “enough” — to be what I thought I “should” be so I could be who I really am. Yeah, I said that right — I’ve made it so hard to just show up and be me. I thought I had to put my licensed therapist self out there and hide my true love — my coaching, teaching and writing — behind it so people would think I was legitimate, worthy of their investment and reputable. The past few months have been an awakening for me to stop hiding and starting owning that I am not just enough — my enough-ness is overflowing in a wonderful way. I am learning that there is no joy, passion, fun and mission in hiding. This post and other messages continue to land in my life and embrace me as I step out from behind the curtain I’ve created. Thank you so much.

    1. Laura – thank you for writing about your own path and especially about being “enough.” What you describe is something all of us need to hear. This Universal thought – I am not enough is what drives us to hide and experience shame and then get more and more credentials to prove that we are enough.
      I did what you did – training and training to get the credentials my mind needed to feel enough. I am so glad you are experiencing enoughness. I am too – finally. Let’s celebrate! Here’s to you and me!

  5. Your blog was passed along to me today… Divine timing indeed. I am reading
    Brene’s book presently ‘the gifts of imperfection’ and what a blessing it
    Has been in ALL aspects of my life. Practicing living this authentic life is just
    That: a practice. Requiring a willingness to trip, fall even crash sometimes, but feeling everything fully along the way is the gift truly in our humanity. Thank you
    For Sharing and best wishes to a bountiful, prosperous 2013

    1. Tracy – thank you for visiting my blog today. Brene is incredible and I am so thankful that she is shining a light on vulnerability, shame and guilt because we all experience it. You are totally right that we are all practicing at life all the time. Each day gives us a brand new start over. I hope you will sign up on the front of my web site to check out my Free Taming Your Inner Critic program. You might like that as well. Happy New Year to you and here’s to you standing taller and sharing you with all of us!

  6. I relate so much to Laura’s story. Why do we so often look for approval and permission from the wrong places? Though “official” credentials can be valuable, sometimes the best validation we can get is from the people we serve. Are we providing value? Are we helping them do what they do to make the world a better place? If we’re making things happen … if we’re creating change, do we need to stop and wait for some external blessing before continuing our work?

    My profession is one that doesn’t require any specific credentials or diplomas. I’ve learned in the trenches. Oddly, I’m both embarrassed by and proud of that fact. Sometimes, I feel inferior; other times I look at the work I’ve done and think, “Nice job!” 🙂

    Thanks for this post, Sherold & for encouraging each of us to stop hiding. That’s a great place to start … anything. 😉

    1. Jamie – I completely identified with Laura Wagner’s comments because I too worked “so hard” to keep getting credentialed to show the world I was enough.
      You are so right that if we wait “until” [fill in the blank], we never share our own unique gifts with the world. The fact that you are street smart and savvy and have supported you and your daughter with your business is PROOF! Evidence that you are damn good at what you do. This notion of hiding is a huge problem I see with us women.
      Thank you for sharing, Jamie.

  7. I have an anxiety disorder, so I practice courage every day. Sometimes I do well and other times, not so well, but I keep trying and going at it one day at a time. I kept my disorder hidden for many years, but finally started being open about it, which I’m finding takes another form of courage. Thanks for a great post!

  8. Sheila Bergquist – you did a courageous act by sharing this just now. Bravo. I grew up with an anxiety disorder myself so I understand fully what it can feel like. And if we listen to the judge (voice in the head) it can make our anxiety even worse. By noticing what you think about and observing it – not attaching emotionally to what it says to you – then you breathe in deeply and let it pass. It’s when we “attach” to our thoughts that the emotion drives our behavior (giving you anxiety) and then your behaviors follow that thought process. I am creating a new program on this and how to begin to use your mind as the steering wheel of your life – you are in control- not it in control of you. That happens when we are not conscious of our thoughts. I hope this makes sense and helps you.

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