This is a revised version of an article that has first appeared in "Samen 03-2022"
In order to keep on developing myself as a life coach, I followed a two-day training on the theme 'Fear of success and failure' at Phoenix Opleidingen. Two inspiring days full of exercises that help you become aware of what you show the world about yourself. How can you celebrate your successes? How do you give yourself the space to make mistakes? How will you step into the light?
One of the most inspiring exercises to me was the following: write on a piece of paper the sentence 'How I want others to see me...' and make a list of aspects that you would like to show. Then turn the sheet over and write the question ‘What I don't want others to see about me…’ and make a list of aspects you would rather keep hidden.
When I did this exercise, it became clear to me how much I usually try to maintain a perfect picture of myself in my daily life and how much energy that takes. Why not make some more room for my hidden aspects? That would bring me a lot of relaxation. More and more it became clear to me that, if I want to be myself, the aspects of the front and back of my paper belong to the ‘picture’.
Now the opportunity arose to do this exercise with students as well. Recently TINT, together with the organizations Women In Science Eindhoven (WISE, for female TU/e employees) and Beyond (for female TU/e students), organized a 'Celebration of Women in Science' for the fourth year in a row. In four workshops, participants could gain inspiration in the field of self-confidence and 'showing yourself'.
In my workshop ‘Show yourself to the world’ seven students did the ‘back and front’ exercise and exchanged about what they discovered. I enjoyed seeing them reflect and hearing their stories. One participant shared that they rather don’t show that they like to be lazy sometimes. A surprise was that another student admitted that they like to be lazy too. A nice discovery: if you dare to show something of yourself, often there are others who admit that they have similar experiences. From the conversation that ensued, it became clear that the moments of being lazy for these students were moments to recover from hard work, to relax and also to reflect on their lives. The 'hidden laziness' turned out to be a fruitful and meaningful time as well.
Of course you can't show everything about yourself at all times and places, that would be too vulnerable. Nevertheless you can play with the question: 'To what extent can I be myself in a certain situation and how can I increase this space?'. The exercise of the 'front and back' is also a nice method for student boards and teams: by doing this exercise and exchanging about it, you’ll get to know yourself and each other better and it creates more space for everyone to be themselves!
Margit van Tuijl
Life coach at TINT