Overcoming Fears of Visibility Online
You know you have an incredible business idea. One that will change the world and the way people do things – whether it’s how they navigate the healthcare system, how they access education or whatever other brilliant idea you have. And yet, despite your best efforts, you know that your fear of being truly visible online is holding you and your mission back from creating the impact you desire.
If this is you, know you are not alone.
The fear of being seen online is one that most (if not all) entrepreneurs suffer from to some degree at one point or another throughout their entrepreneurial journey. Putting yourself and your mission out into the world requires great courage, determination, and resilience. Especially in a world that is often so quick to judge anyone who speaks up and goes against the grain of societal “norms”.
But the truth is, you started your business to be and do things differently. Because you saw the way things are in your industry, and you recognized there was a gap and saw how you could improve upon things. Your unique and valuable perspective brought forth your mission – and it would be a shame for it to end there because of your fears of being visible online.
What is the fear of being seen?
The fear of being seen, at its core, is a fear of losing connection and belonging with others. As humans, our greatest desire is to be connected with others, to be in the community, and to belong. And putting ourselves out there and sharing about our mission could potentially jeopardize that. For when we do so, we are going against the grain, and therefore opening ourselves up to potential judgment or ridicule from others. Which in turn could lead to loss of connection, and feeling like we don’t belong – and like we are an outsider.
This can show up in your business as not showing up or only allowing yourself to be seen by certain people. due to the unconscious fear of not being liked, being rejected, or being seen as “wrong” by others for sharing your truth. Why? Because of your deeply ingrained survival instincts. Being visible online subconsciously feels like a threat to your safety, therefore in order to remain safe, you subconsciously step into a fawn response. Meaning, that you keep yourself small or maintain the status quo by upholding societal norms rather than voicing your opinion in order to stay safe by avoiding potential discomfort or conflict.
So while this may not necessarily stop you from starting your business, it may prevent you from actually sharing your mission at large. Leading you to not see the results or create the impact you desire with your business due to your lack of visibility. Because in order to have a successful business, you have to share what you do and why you do it with the world so that you can connect with people and have them buy from you.
How is the fear of being seen exhibited?
The fear of being seen in your business can manifest in a number of ways, preventing you from marketing your mission. Here are a few examples of how you might be experiencing the fear of being seen in your business:
You are afraid of people thinking you are stupid, unqualified, or a fraud. Therefore you stop yourself from sharing your knowledge or perspective at all.
You fear failure, and the idea of other people seeing you fail. So rather than put yourself out there and potentially fail, you don’t even try. Cutting yourself and your mission off at the knees.
You worry that sharing about your business, mission, and offers will come off as “salesy” or inauthentic, so you don’t speak up about your business or mission as often as you need in order to build brand awareness, connect with your ideal clients, or make sales.
You are a total perfectionist, so while you’re doing work in the background of your business, none of it is ever “good enough” or “ready” to be put out into the world.
You constantly question yourself, doubting your knowledge and expertise, which leads you to be in a state of analysis paralysis.
You are afraid of being seen as annoying or “too much” and rather than share your passion for your mission fully, you water down your message to make it more palatable for others.
You may not have even been consciously aware of these fears until now, and that’s ok. These fears are not your truth, and the first step to overcoming them is to be aware of them and how they are impacting you and your business.
Keep reading to learn how you can effectively navigate, manage, and overcome these fears that are holding you back from being visible online so that you and your mission can make the impact that you desire.
How to overcome the fear of being seen
Firstly, I want to acknowledge that the fear may never fully go away because the fear ultimately does have a purpose. It is an evolutionary defense mechanism that has been instilled within you as a way to protect you and keep you “safe”. But many of these fears are not warranted within the context of your business, and so we must learn to navigate them and manage them in order to move forward in spite of their best efforts to keep us “safe”. Here are a few ways in which you can learn to work with your fears and build safety in being visible in your business:
Remind yourself of your why & the power of your mission
Remember why you started your business and the value of your perspective and your mission. You likely started your business to make a positive impact on the world by changing the way things are done in your industry – don’t forget this. Let your mission be the guiding light when you find yourself in moments of fear or doubt. Think about the people you desire to create positive change for, and how you hope to support them through your mission. And remind yourself how being visible allows you to help more people and create a greater impact on the world. Your why is way more powerful than your fear, tap into it and let it fuel you.
Reassure yourself that it is safe to be visible online
Your body doesn’t know the difference between the fear of being seen in your business, from the fear of being eaten by a mountain lion. To the body, they both put your livelihood at risk, and it isn’t able to differentiate between the two. But you know that they do not pose the same risks. Remind yourself of this fact when you are feeling fear, and reassure yourself that it is in fact safe to be seen. If you are struggling to do this for yourself, you may want to seek outside support from a trauma-informed therapist or coach.
Remember that you are in control
You are 100% in control of how much you share and when. Being visible in your business does not require you to share every detail about yourself, your life, or what you have been through. You get to choose how much you are ready and willing to share with your audience AND the lens through which you share it. If you are in the midst of a big life challenge, you do not have to share that in order to appear authentic or vulnerable to your audience. Visibility does not require you to self-abandon or push beyond the boundaries of what feels safe for you to share about your life or business. The more that you find safety in being visible, the more you may desire to share – but it is not a requirement. You can titrate how much you feel comfortable divulging until you build up that safety with sharing.
Learn to befriend your fear
Fear doesn’t dissipate from pushing it away. It actually only becomes stronger the more that you try to resist it. So instead of avoiding it, make friends with it and learn from it instead. When you are curious and compassionate with yourself and your fear, you begin to understand it which helps you to ease the grip it has on you, making it easier to manage.
Reminder: you are a strong, determined, and resilient bad a**
You have been able to handle and figure out how to overcome every challenge and hard day that you have had up until this point. This is no different. The fear you are experiencing, while very real, is mostly based on projections of worst-case scenarios rather than actual facts. Remember, there are actually a ton of different possible outcomes, and you are fully capable of navigating whatever comes your way. If you find yourself in doubt, remind yourself of your power and how you have overcome challenges that have arisen in the past. Trust in yourself, your capabilities, and your resiliency.
Take one step at a time
Start with one post on Facebook. Sharing one Instagram story. Posting one video on YouTube. Sending one email. Reaching out to one person on LinkedIn. You get the picture. It doesn’t matter what you do, it matters that you take one step toward being visible in your business. Take some time to determine what that step is for you, and start small. Because if you try to leap into doing it all at once, posting across 5 platforms and showing up live every single day…you’re going to overload your nervous system. Make SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time-bound) goals and chip away at them step by step.
You’re more capable than you give yourself credit for, don’t let your fear of being visible online stop you from sharing your genius with the world or letting your incredible business idea die before it has the chance to change the world. Need a little extra boost? Listen to this Letter to Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert from her book Big Magic. And if you’re in need of support with determining if your content is really putting your best foot forward, head here to book your free content audit, so that we can make sure the message you’re sharing is aligned with your mission and values.