My college sophomore son is home for the summer.
He's heard me talk (complain?) about how invisible I can sometimes feel. Honestly, in an effort to keep the plates spinning, and everyone else happy, I suppose by default, I've gotten into the habit of putting myself last. Being invisible to myself.
Oh geez, have they learned how to treat me from me? They are sponges after all ...
As I've had this awareness—and allowed MY voice to get louder—it has been interesting to see the kids respond.
He's a smart kid. But he's introverted, so I don't always know what he knows ... You know?
I made dinner. It was just the two of us. He says, "Hey Mom, you wanna watch something while we eat dinner?"
"Sure," I respond. "What do you want to watch?"
He meets my eyes and challenges me: "You pick."
Suddenly, I'm flustered. I don't know that I feel confident picking out a program that I want that he, too, will enjoy. And that fact makes me even more uncomfortable.
What if I blow it and lose his attention and company?
When he sees my discomfort, and then my hesitation, he says, "C'mon Mom, seriously. YOU pick. C'mon: What do YOU want to watch?"
He bores a hole into me with his steely gaze. Knowing. He's letting me know he sees me. How did he get so smart? In that moment, he energetically dares me—encourages me—to let myself count.
My story resonates with you, Dear Reader, doesn't it?
You're superwoman in one part of your life, speaking your truth, knocking down walls, making sh!t happen—and all with one arm tied behind your back. Then there is this other little part of your life where you don't even know how to assert your program preference for fear of disappointing others.
This is called giving away your power.
I know so many amazing, beautiful, wonderfully talented, centered, strong, kick-butt, know-their-worth female friends and clients who—despite their awesome accomplishments—identify with this feeling.
We are givers, helpers, healers, caretakers, mothers and nurturers. And selfless to the core.
This strength, like most strengths when overused, becomes a ... Well, you know what I'm going to say.
We put ourselves first and it feels wrong, selfish, counterintuitive, and not nice.
Time to reframe.
We are also teachers. It's important to teach others how to BE. They watch us; we are examples. How we value ourselves. How to give their future selves permission to matter. How to treat each other in their relationships.
It's important for me to teach my son and daughter self-respect, self-love, and self-compassion. Their future selves depend on it.
Dinner in the den with my son gives me hope. They've been paying attention. Our conversations about emotional intelligence, standing in your truth, living from your core, and BEING have thankfully superseded my people-pleasing-TV-watching tendencies.
I've taught them more than I'd realized.
They've been listening and watching.
I am not invisible.
And now I know he knows, you know?
Written by Heidi Frye, President of UPwords Inc. Heidi has spent her career making an impact on bottom-line business growth. Whether working with leaders, contributing to top-line sales revenue or helping organizations with talent acquisition, she is best known for her achievement orientation. Learn more at UPwords. She is also the author of Swaying Out of Balance.