Overcoming the Fear of Being Seen

Overcoming the Fear of Being Seen
Find the Freedom to be Your Authentic Self

Through most of my life I was terrified of being seen. I would rarely speak with people and kept my eyes down to avoid even potential connection. My initial (and still greatest) breakthrough with being seen was shaped when I first read the Bhagavad Gita. It sent waves of energy shooting through my body, leaving me with goose bumps rippling across my skin. It was as a very clear sign of, “Pay attention Miroslav! This is important.” The Bhagavad Gita emphasized the need to separate our actions from their results.

“You have a right to perform your prescribed duties, but you are not entitled to the fruits of your actions. Never consider yourself to be the cause of the results of your activities, nor be attached to inaction.” – Krishna, Bhagavad Gita 2.47

When we feel the desire to perform an action where we are seen, our heart starts beating rapidly inside our chests and the mind imagines an undesirable outcome that may happen. We must remember that the outcome is not in our control (whether good or bad), it is our job ONLY to answer the call of our hearts and perform the action. What happens as a result of that action, is not ours to own or control. Dr. Demartini paraphrases this same concept very well, “I would rather say no to the whole world than my own soul.”

The mind imagines an undesirable outcome that may happen.The mind imagines an undesirable outcome that may happen.

Giving Yourself Freedom To Be Seen Even With Fear

So it is important to ask what actually stops us from taking the action and being seen? Is it fear or something else? And what is it we are ACTUALLY afraid of?  When we get inquisitive, perhaps a lot of our fears come down to social anxieties hiding as excuses.

Our minds create scenarios around what may happen if we are seen. The ‘fears’ often relate to being judged, laughed at, or having our reputation and self-image ruined. We avoid being small, ashamed, and ‘failing’ in the eyes of others. Most of us have probably carried these unproductive habits for so long that they run in the background. Instead of risking being our true expressive self, we continue to pretend, fit in, and be comfortable, while slowly suffocating on the inside.

In the west, we have a tendency to say “I don’t have fear” as a bravado mask. The problem with this is that inside our fear is also hidden our life’s purpose – our desires, inspiration, and joy. To pretend we have no fear is to abandon our quest for true fulfilment in life. More commonly though it is a safety mechanism, we hide from fear, by conveniently wrapping it up in a myriad of other excuses to protect ourselves from actually feeling it.

What actually stops us from taking the action and being seen?What actually stops us from taking the action and being seen?

The Common Disguises Of Fear

I worked with a woman a few years ago who was convinced she had no fears. As we spent time together, she began to discover that the fear was there, it was just conveniently buried in a myriad of different excuses and stories, some of which may be familiar to you.

Sometimes we find ourselves procrastinating, continually putting off what we want to do until ‘tomorrow’ or ‘next time.’ This is a common symptom of fear which stops us from actually feeling the fear, instead, we just push it off into the future. Being ‘confused’ or ‘unclear’ and telling yourself and others that you “don’t know what to do next” is another way fear can hide in our identity. This is because if you did know what to do, it would mean you would actually be doing it and this can be scary for many people.

Another form of fear disguised as an excuse comes up as we tell ourselves that we ‘don’t know enough’, or ‘aren’t ready’, instead of bringing forth what we do know, we play small. On the other extreme, are stories which seemingly look positive but also disable us. For example, ‘waiting for a sign’ sounds great in theory, but in the real world, it means being inactive and waiting. What if we changed it slightly to, ‘acknowledging the signs that are already present in our life’? With a small tweak of language, it suddenly creates movement and action. Perhaps the signs are always there for us and are just waiting for us to see them.

“Life is either a great adventure or nothing at all” – Helen Keller

The fear was there, buried in a myriad of different excuses and stories.The fear was there, buried in a myriad of different excuses and stories.

The OTHER Definition of Fear You Were Never Taught

English, like all languages, is sometimes limited in its ability to describe our reality, and when our language is limited, so is our perception and experience of the world. Ancient Biblical Hebrew, for example, has two different words which are both commonly translated as ‘fear’ in English. Understanding this difference is a major key in allowing ourselves to be seen. These words are Pachad and Yirah.

Pachad is more specifically translated as ‘dread’ or the “fear whose objects are imagined.”[1] This is typically the “worst case scenario” the mind suggests and we habitually buy into. The suggested scenarios are often unrealistic and improbable, yet still manage to keep us stuck or afraid of ‘showing up.’

Yirah is the other, less commonly translated, version of fear. It is more akin to ‘awe’ or ‘reverence’, and points to the indescribable feeling when the mind is completely quiet, immersed in the present moment, and the body is vibrating with life as if in the presence of the divine. Rabbi Alan Lew describes Yirah as “the fear that overcomes us when we suddenly find ourselves in possession of considerably more energy than we are used to, inhabiting a larger space than we are used to inhabiting.” It is a good thing. People pay good money to wait in line for roller coasters to experience this same fear – and we have it at our disposal daily, simply by answering the call to be seen.


These two fears are often entwined. It is important to acknowledge the imagined fear but stay grounded in the experience of Yirah. To breathe and treat it like a sacred experience that offers great transformation, and realize that regardless of the imagined fears, great freedom can be experienced if we can follow through with Yirah.

“What you imagine to be happening is actually happening as far as your brain is concerned.” – Dr. David Hamilton

So Is The Fear Real or Imagined?

Science tells us that our brains can not actually distinguish the real from the imagined.[2] Dr. David Hamilton explains that when you imagine danger, your body begins a stress response releasing cortisol and adrenalin and pushing blood around the body. “It means that what you imagine to be happening is actually happening as far as your brain is concerned.”[3]

Through mindfulness, we can direct our attention to imagining the kind of experiences we want to have more of, and direct our awareness to the state of awe inside our body as we transcend what we thought was possible.

Our brains can not actually distinguish the real from the imagined.Our brains can not actually distinguish the real from the imagined.

Dissolving Imagined Fears

When you feel called to take action and be seen, notice the ‘worst case scenario’ your mind gives you, and consider asking yourself:

What other ways could this situation play out that I may not have initially been aware of?

Take a few deep breaths and challenge yourself to imagine, and perhaps write down, at least 4 or 5 different alternatives to your action. We live in a world of unlimited potential, and it is only by habit that we assume there is only one way for things to happen. Whenever we find ourselves in the ‘one track thought’, the invitation is to acknowledge it and get curious about what else is possible.

When you have your scenarios mapped out, let yourself imagine and play them out, remembering that the brain will treat this as real. This will create new pathways in the brain and allow you to relate differently to what happens in the real world.

The biggest gift I have discovered in being seen is that when we step through that doorway of fear and take a ‘new’ action – saying or doing something in front of others we wouldn’t usually, we allow ourselves to undergo a huge transformation where we are able to become someone we could never have imagined ourselves to be previously. It’s like a free personal development course we can tap into at any time.

Take a few deep breaths and challenge yourself to imagine different alternatives.Take a few deep breaths and challenge yourself to imagine different alternatives.

Why Is Being Seen So Important?

Consider that being seen in our most vulnerable is what awakens our heart. It allows us to bring forth our dreams, talents, and purpose. Everything we want to achieve, and are capable of in this lifetime, is hidden in there. Far beyond what we can imagine. Maybe we are not here to LIVE our purpose but simply to WATCH it unfold from within us. As the Bhagavad Gita quoted, not owning the action but simply being in service to it. As Prince Ea said,Martin Luther King, that man never had a dream, that dream had him.[4]

When you next have the opportunity to step up and allow yourself to be seen, I invite you to give yourself the greatest gift of all: SEEING yourself in action and discovering what is possible for you in this lifetime.

Your fear is supporting you to shine.

Feature Image: Artist Unknown

Read Next: How to Hold Space for Yourself

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[1] http://www.jonathanfields.com/is-it-fear-or-awe/ [2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7500130 [3] http://drdavidhamilton.com/does-your-brain-distinguish-real-from-imaginary/ [4] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=64xH2JCqNVA



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Linda Rose
Linda Rose
2 years ago

Wow thank you for this.

Shirley Platt
Shirley Platt
2 years ago

Having a deep faith in the Lord, eliminates secular fears.

Holly Soulie
Holly Soulie
3 years ago

I’ve been healing my fear of being seen for a while now. I think it stems from not being allowed to be my authentic self as a child. Now it scares me as an adult. Thanks for this article, I’m sure I’ll keep revisiting it as I continue to grow.

4 years ago

This post barely spoke about the fear of being seen. I was looking forward to learning more.

Ben Brayev
Ben Brayev
5 years ago

This was really unexpected. Great article. Just great. The person that wrote this is incredibly smart and sensitive.

6 years ago

Pay off debts.

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