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What Curtain Are You Hiding Behind?

When I, CrisMarie, was 10 years old, my parents and I were living in New Jersey, and we went to visit my aunt and uncle in Long Island. Mom asked that I bring my flute.

That evening they wanted me to play some music. I was petrified to play in front of them. Then I spotted the blue curtain that shut off the stairs from the living room. I decided I could play if they couldn’t see me. I stood on the staircase behind the blue curtain and played.

Now, I’m pretty certain I popped into this world, like many children, naturally wanting to be seen and shine. Yet, only in the last few years, have I let myself come out from behind the blue curtain. I’ve discovered the aliveness and joy I get from being on stage – speaking, acting, dancing.

However, I spent most of my adult life hiding behind that curtain.

If you and I were having a coffee together, I’d come away knowing much more about you than you about me. I’d ask you questions, discuss concepts and tools, movies and stories, but rarely would I share a story about myself. You’d feel heard and understood, but you’d not know much about me.

Questions and inquiry about you – were my blue curtain.

Why? I thought that’s what would keep me safe.

Growing up as the youngest in my family, I’d listen to older people criticize each other behind their backs. Comments were often laced with distain and disgust. I was shocked. I was determined to NOT be the person they were talking about.

By ten years old, I was desperately trying to be “perfect,” to avoid the devastating blow of criticism. I’d learned to scan the environment and detect what people liked and didn’t like. I often assumed they had the right answer or somehow knew the truth. Then I worked very hard to become what they wanted, which is tricky when the adults in your life want different things.

My desire to avoid criticism through hiding, people pleasing, and perfectionism, was crippling to my self-development. I wanted to do what I loved, but I kept missing the mark because I wasn’t willing to say how I really felt, ask for what I want, express my true opinion – to live out loud.

It wasn’t until I started working with a mind-body life coach that I allowed myself to begin talking about me.

What I didn’t realize is that:

  • people’s criticism is more about them than me

  • there is no way to please everyone (believe me, I’ve tied myself up in knots trying)

  • criticism is about getting control over someone else – not a truth about the content or topic of the criticism

My coach gave me tools to pull back the curtain and help me discover what was important to me.

I started trying out for plays, even though some people would say that’s a frivolous activity. I took up dancing, even though it interfered with my work day schedule, fearing others would judge me. I began writing my personal blog, sharing my stories in the hopes of connecting to you – despite people telling me I shouldn’t reveal so much.

Still, I continue to find ways to stay behind the blue curtain. Just recently, I was lamenting to my coach (because yes, I believe coaching really works and have used coaches for years) that not as many people weren’t signing up for my coaching packages as I wanted. I said, “WTF, I’ve been coaching for a long time and I’m a damn good coach! Why not?!”

She asked, “Have you told people about your coaching?” I thought about it and realized I hadn’t said much. Can you guess what my homework was?

Now, I make it a point to I tell three people a day, “I’m a mind-body, relationship and business coach. I refuse to choose!”

I put a post on Facebook and immediately got three clients. I guess living out loud really does work!

What’s the blue curtain you hide behind?

What part of you are you not talking about, not bringing out so that people can see? If you’re hiding because you’re trying to avoid criticism, that’s a miserable way to live. I know.

My challenge to you is: today talk about yourself, share your point of view, say what you do or tell someone what you love.

You might be surprised by the connections you make, but even more, you might enjoy how ALIVE you feel!


P.S. If you want some help living out loud, why not join us for Get Unstuck, Relationship Mojo, or our signature retreat Find Your Mojo in Montana? Want to work one-on-one, sign up for some personal coaching, and I’ll help you get started!

CrisMarie Campbell and Susan Clarke are Master certified life coaches, business consultants, speakers and authors of The Beauty of Conflict. They believe real relationships are the key to creating great business results. They’ll take your team from mediocre to great.

Want to take a class? Sign up for one of their virtual classes: Get Unstuck, Relationship Mojo or come to their signature retreat Find Your Mojo in Montana. Click here to check out all their service offerings.

Click here to contact them to coach with you, consult with your team, or speak at your next event.

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