A map for how to take up your own space.

Are you the kind of person who folds themselves into a smaller space to make room for other people on public transport? Or are you a person who spreads their arms and legs out to make less room for someone to sit next to you. Or, are you someone who just sits and takes up the space that you do.

Today’s post is for those who don’t take up their space and who want to.

My coaching business finds me working a lot with women in this very predicament. for some there is a cultural norm, where you don’t have an opinion against anyone in public. For others, it is the threat of negative evaluation that keeps them small. After all, if you don’t take up too much room, stay quiet(ish) and you get the job done, that’s success, right?

The 4 women I am currently describing and working with, are finding this way of working/being/existing impossible to continue. They describe physical symptoms that are eerily the same, despite not knowing each other. They feel like their throats are constricting and their need to be heard is on the brink of coming out all wrong. Destructive, rather than constructive in a way that serves them, or their employer. They can’t hold themselves ‘in’ any more, and although this is terrifying to them in some ways, they do not WANT to hold themselves in anymore. In the past 2 months, each has been sitting in my office asking me a version of this question: “What is going on with me?”

Each time we unpack this question together, I find they give me a similar answer. Their answer boils down to this: It is time to take up more space. Not more than they are, rather taking up the entirety of what or who they are. No curling in around the edges.

The piece of the puzzle here, is to build that comfort to be yourself so that when you are evaluated (which we always are) or when your opinion is different. Most of my clients are tripped up in the transition stage of this change. They feel like they want to do it differently, but the execution is clumsy.

So we work it out together, and we practice it in spaces that are safer. Afterall, when you are learning anything new, you fumble and fall before you would describe yourself as consciously competent.

Trouble occurs for us when you feel as though your defender must come out to look after you as you try to navigate a new version of Being. When our Defenders are at play, this is when we are usually display ‘Below the Line’ behaviours. For those new to this concept, these are destructive behaviours known as: Defending, Denying, Blaming, Justifying. These behaviours are not creating a new world view that is better or more constructive, rather these behaviours are trying to keep you safe by defending you, but in a destructive way.

My clients come to me having either blown something up (using their Defenders) upon realising they want to take up their own space. Or they can feel themselves internally shifting and want to blow something up. They are scared of what might happen next and truthfully, they are little scared of their own internal power too.

Once we have mapped out the processes above, we start to work with constructive ways of existing in their own space, being able to handle negative evaluations, and respond in ways that add value to discussions. Together we work for each person to find comfort in this new feeling of power.

Simple, yes perhaps. Easy, well no. It can take some time, some fumbles and some falls before the new ways are embedded. Like any learning, it’s uncomfortable until it is habitual or integrated into our new normal.

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