This past weekend, I attended a three-day training for becoming a certified life coach. It was the first class in this series (which is quite intense and will take more than a year to complete) and, when I first walked in the door, I wasn’t at all sure that the training would resonate with me. However, by the end of the very first day, I knew I had stumbled upon a great life calling.
But this post isn’t about the start of my new journey (you’ll hear enough about that in the future, I’m sure!). It’s actually about an exceptionally powerful exercise that took place on the very last day of class.
Now, let me preface this by explaining that a training class like this can be very intense. You end up sharing a lot about yourself and getting to know others quickly. The environment was respectful and nonjudgmental, and though we started off as complete strangers, we formed tight bonds in a matter of hours thanks to the work we were doing.
The exercise itself involved everyone in the group sitting in a circle and focusing on one person. This alone can be very awkward, even for someone like me who normally likes being in the spotlight. Then, everyone just starts sharing the qualities they’ve seen in you over the past three days. And you can’t respond. You just have to sit there and take it. You absorb the compliments, the things that surprise you, the things that feel untrue. You allow them to simply sit out there without arguing or waving them off.
When it was my turn, I was surprised to find myself crying almost from the very beginning.
These people had seen so much in me in such a short period of time. It felt strange to be so…seen. In our everyday lives, it’s easy to feel invisible, to blend in to the background and remain hidden. It’s a safe place to be. We end up creating an idea of how others see us, and it’s not always accurate or flattering. When people really see you, it can be surprising and overwhelming and unbelievably empowering.
I realized that, in order truly be seen, you have to allow others in. You can’t stay in the shadows. No matter how hard or how scary it feels to share who you are, be willing to go there. And, when you’re lucky enough to get a glimpse at how others perceive you, just sit there. Absorb it. Bask in it.
When they see the real you, it’s a glorious feeling. Because you, my friend, are a glorious creature.
Photo Credit: tassie.sim (Flickr)