I’ve been using Venus retrograde in Leo to investigate the resistance that often arises for me and many of my clients when it comes to embracing visibility in our work.
This is a continuation of that series.
A 2016 survey by the makers of Dove Body Wash revealed that 85% of women opt out of life events because they don’t like how they look.
It’s not only “life events.”
Many women also pull back from promoting their businesses because of concerns about image and appearance.
Although concerns about physical appearance and hang ups with body image get a lot of attention, “appearance” can have a lot of meanings. For me, as well as many of my clients, it goes beyond physical appearance and body image.
Here are three other concerns about “image” and “appearance” that I’ve found get in the way of stepping into greater visibility.
(1) The Expectation of What Visibility “Should” Look Like
In our current era of personal branding, what we share can define our brand’s narrative.
Whether I’m posting about my real estate business, my coaching practice, or other parts of my life, I often find myself questioning whether I’m portraying the “right” image.
These questions often sound like:
- Does this portray me in a flattering light?
- How does it look?
- How will this come across?
- Will this be received in the way I intended?
The challenge intensifies when you don’t conform to the mold of an industry.
My approach to real estate is holistic. The insights I want to share are often not about market reports or housing trends, but about the unseen influences on human behavior that can keep clients from pursuing their dream home or letting go when it’s time to sell.
Although my clients and many colleagues tell me my approach is refreshing, I often doubt whether there’s a desire or demand for the insights that I feel called to share.
Sometimes it feels safer to avoid putting my opinions or my work out there rather than risking being misunderstood.
The puzzle deepens when I’m sharing aspects beyond the business realm, especially because my business has so many components.
To me, it’s all related. But not everyone gets that. This seems to invite confusion about what I do — confusion that doesn’t exist for other people who hold multiple “roles” in life.
If I share snippets from the gym or from trapeze, will people assume I don’t have time to take on real estate clients?
If I share about my coaching practice or my desire to teach yoga, will people think I’m leaving the real estate business?
Will revealing moments of failure cast a shadow over my expertise?
(2) The Optics of What We Share
Appearance isn’t just about physical looks. There are also the “optics” — how things appear to people.
In early 2015 I sustained a brain injury during a freak fainting episode in my apartment. In the following months, I shared some of my recovery challenges on Facebook — until someone close to me told me I shouldn’t share so much about it.
The concern was that people might think I couldn’t take on new clients.
That concern echoed for me in 2019, when I met a physical therapist who tied together many of my chronic physical injuries and movement dysfunctions with nervous system issues, chronic stress, and ADHD.
Over a span of five months, I worked with him almost daily to retrain my nervous system and my movement patterns.
This discovery led me to learn more about the nervous system and the inextricable link between mental and physical health and our work. It led me to complete a yoga teacher training.
Although I knew that the information I was learning and the work we were doing would be helpful to others, I didn’t share my journey.
I succumbed to the conditioned belief that sharing points of vulnerability could be damaging to my business — even though this journey had profound relevance to both my coaching and real estate practices and sparked the seed for a new angle on my work.
There’s also the optics of having multiple interests and hobbies, and the fear of judgment that might result from that.
Like me, many of my clients are multi-faceted and have diverse interests. They often express fear that if they share the different parts of themselves people will judge them for being too “all over the place” or “scattered.”
These concerns can keep us from sharing all the parts of ourselves.
And when you don’t share at all, nobody knows what you do.
(3) The Trap of Cultural “Rules”
Many women, especially, find self-promotion challenging because of deeply conditioned beliefs about the “propriety” of self-promotion and the implicit cultural rules about who is “allowed” to be visible.
For example, my grandmother would often say “good merchandise speaks for itself.” She and my mother would speak disapprovingly of women who were constantly promoting themselves or bragging about their kids.
Their comments reflected a cultural belief that may feel like a relic from a bygone era but still exists today:
The belief that a woman who has the audacity to share her accomplishments or accolades is “un-ladylike.” Self-promotion is “unsavory.”
Vestiges of an archaic era still linger, dictating the boundaries of who deserves visibility, and for what.
Illuminating The Path to Authentic Expression
I’ll admit that when I say this out loud or put it in writing some of it sounds silly. I can find hard evidence of other successful people that rebuts my fears.
Patterns can keep us stuck until we see them. Once we see a pattern, it loses its power over us.
Naming is the first step toward taming. Once we see the patterns, we can begin to identify the beliefs that lie beneath them. Then we can eventually rewire those beliefs.
But this is part of the point: fears aren’t rational. And they often aren’t conscious.
My purpose here is to reveal the thoughts and beliefs that often lie beneath the surface and get in our way, not to judge them.
By confronting these hurdles, we chip away at their hold. The first step is to acknowledge them, peeling back the layers of influence and charting our path to liberation.
Venus in Leo wants the spotlight. She wants to be center stage in all her glory.
We have earned our right to shine.