Overcoming the Fear of Being Seen

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Three simple steps to let your light shine


I nearly lost my life because I was hiding my gifts. I’ve made it a mission to help others be seen for who they really are before they get as far out of alignment as I was by the time I showed my own gifts. 

As a business coach who has helped hundreds of women be seen for the difference they can make, I know this fear can be paralyzing. It can make them sabotage everything that’s important to them – what gives their life meaning and what they would contribute to the overall freedom of humanity.

The more we avoid getting out there, the greater the resistance we build up to it. And while this fear can be a show-stopper for everyone, the more we have at stake for being seen, the greater we fear it. 

The worst part is the biggest loss is not to one’s self, but to those who would have benefited from seeing us, hearing us, taking in our message or by following our example. 

This year, I created a women’s online class on this subject for 70 registrants. I asked them in advance to share with me the top reasons they were afraid of being seen for their natural and hard-earned gifts.

The Top Reasons Women Fear Being Seen

Because fear appears like a wall, to begin the process of letting go, I like to break it down and be precise. Here are the most common responses I got from the women in my class:

  • Fear of being judged.
  • Feeling not good enough.
  • Feeling too sensitive, and not having the strength to withstand the reflections and feedback that might follow. 
  • Feeling not ready and unqualified to get out, front and centre.
  • Fear of failure.
  • Fear of success.
  • Fear of being seen for their authentic self.

On My Own Journey of Being Visible

What I noticed from putting myself out there over the years was that my group’s worst fears were, at one time, my reality. 

I did receive praise and encouragement for the talks, workshops and events I put on, but I also received judgment and criticism. And at times, especially when I was making strides in my work, I experienced a few outright takedowns, in one case from a trusted “elder.” 

I had successes putting myself out there, both financially and in growing my community, but I had many more failures. And I discovered that, deep down, I was as terrified of succeeding as failing. 

I learned two things from this. The first is to be so clear about who I authentically am that those in my zone either understand and love me or they can’t relate and stop following me. That clears out the vast majority of nonsupporters. 

But more importantly, the second thing I learned as I went through my biggest fears and lived to tell, was that on the other side of that fear was a huge sense of personal power and freedom. It never ever fails. When I stand up to my fears, I’m rewarded with having more energy and enthusiasm for my mission.

Since surviving a life-threatening cancer at age 31, I’ve done live talks, online presentations, live videos, hosted numerous public events and performed for audiences, for example, of 2,000 people at the Centennial Concert Hall to open for speakers like author, Deepak Chopra, and human rights activist, Jehan Sadat. 

For me, it’s not about fame and fortune or becoming adored, it’s about getting my message out. Because if I don’t, it literally keeps me up at night. I had to get past my fears of being seen, because sleep, my health and everything that was important to me was at stake.

What Fulfillment Really Means

After I was diagnosed with a stage four lymphoma at 29, it was a three-year battle fighting for my life. I devoted myself entirely to doing the inner work to excavate the demons that were sucking the life from me, and I realized that I had got so sick because I was afraid to show the real me. 

I had been leading a double life. By day I was working in the corporate world as a vice president for my family’s business, and nights and weekends I was exploring my passions for spirituality, teaching, music, art and building community. 

I was stuck both ways. I had to hide my spiritual interests from the business community, and at the same time, I had to conceal my love of entrepreneurism from the spiritual community. 

In the 90s when this all came to a head for me,  spirituality – in Manitoba, at least – was very much an underground culture. Yoga had not become a household word, and now I see how my past lives in the witch hunt were haunting me. 

My biggest fear of all was being seen for my authentic calling, for my natural and hard-earned gifts. So, I hid them, even from myself.

For me it took this knock-em-down fight for my life to allow myself to fully see and take responsibility for my sacred contract. 

It made me realize that I never again had to do anything to fulfill myself – I was already that. I resolved to do whatever it took to decode my sacred contract and be seen for the natural gifts that come with it. 

My worst fears were realized, and while I got judged and criticized, I saw that I was not taken down. Because I knew that being seen wasn’t about me needing to become fulfilled for myself. It was about me fulfilling my sacred purpose. 

The Big Lie

We are born into a big lie: that we come to earth unfulfilled and need to spend our lives striving to fill ourselves up. 

It means we place our hope for fulfillment outside of ourselves – in accomplishments, things we acquire, people we are connected to, the wealth we amass and status we take on.

It also means we split our awareness and self-worth into these parts of our lives. When we lose sight of who we are in our wholeness, we stop seeing what’s behind the authentic desire to be seen in the first place – our unique calling and the transformations we can help others make because of it.

The reason that our calling is so important is because it is how we fit in with humanity. It’s how we contribute to the greater good, at whatever level, big or small. And it’s how we are naturally positioned to receive what we need to accomplish our mission. 

Being visible and answering one’s unique calling – which go hand in hand – is a path of radical self-responsibility. When we answer the call and we see that we have something important to say and do, it makes it worth it to do the harder work of getting past the fears.

These days, with the rampant and escalating incidents of human tragedy, greed and outright evil in the world, it’s more important than ever for us to turn our focus, first, inward and gather the courage to be seen for what we can contribute to solutions for the good of all.

To help with that, here are three steps for taking responsibility for your sacred calling and fearlessly showing the glory of what you came here to Earth to be and do.

Three Simple Steps for Letting Go of the Fear of Being Seen

From all my experiences of overcoming my fears of being seen over the past two

decades, I’ve boiled down the lessons I’ve learned into these three simple steps.

1.  Know precisely what is worth the risk of being seen.

There’s no getting past the gatekeeper of fear. Every time I appear to present or perform I hit that wall. 

But when being seen is important to me at the level of my soul and how I am tied in with humanity, it’s clearly worth the risk. 

The first step in getting past the fear of judgment and being seen for who you are is knowing that if it’s not your authentic heart and soul, you won’t have something bigger than your fear to get you to the other side of it. 

If you’re afraid of not being loved and need fame, recognition and accolades to fulfill you, it will blind you to your true mission on this planet. It makes you a hungry ghost and vulnerable to a system that feeds on your hunger.

If you find out who you are and focus on what exactly you are wired to contribute, then the risk of being seen – and the work to get past the fear – will feel worth it.

2.  Realize it’s not about you.

Once you know who you are – what you have that’s worth risking exposure for – the next step is realizing that being seen isn’t even about you. It’s about those you can help by putting yourself out there.

So much fear dissolves by simply shifting your attention to those you can help. Ask yourself, “Who needs to hear my message? Who would do courageous things if they saw someone else doing it and could follow my lead?” 

If you’re terrified of being seen, it’s a sign you have most of your attention on yourself and the love, approval and recognition you feel you lack. 

From this lack, the thoughts spin mercilessly: “Will they like me? What are they going to say about me? Will they value what I have to say? Are these the right shoes? Maybe I should have cut my hair, after all…” And underneath all that looms the biggest fear of all, “Am I good enough?”

These kinds of thoughts are all a clear sign that your attention is going in the wrong direction, giving you countless reasons to be afraid of being seen. It will paralyze you and either stop you from being courageous, or you’ll burn out your nerves and adrenals from running with fear.

When you flip it around so most of your attention is on the people you are being seen by, you get inside their heads and hearts. That will inspire you to find out how to best help them and, in the process, free you from your fear of being not good enough. 

This second step goes a long way to clearing the mental noise of fear, but the job of getting past the fear of being seen isn’t complete until we take out the mental programs that lock it in place. For this, we will have to dive into the unconscious, Jungian style. 

3. Letting the shadows go.

I studied Carl Jung’s discovery of archetypes in my university anthropology days. And I played with archetypes over eight trips to India in the 90s. It wasn’t until I was facing my death from cancer that I took the magic of them straight to heart.

After a second diagnosis, when I was told I wouldn’t survive, I made it my full-time study to decode the life purpose I had seen inside myself using archetypes. I was lost as to how to manifest through what I had seen about myself. 

By looking through the archetypes – the spiritual “DNA” and collective consciousness that transcends culture, geography and time – many aspects of myself came into clarity. 

With everything to lose, including my life, I was called to enter realms inside myself where my conscious mind could not go. 

It’s there I found my deepest fears. And it’s also where I discovered my greatest gifts. 

When an archetype goes into the unconscious, it doesn’t go dormant or mute as it might logically seem. Rather it acts out of this unconscious place and leaves us feeling mysteriously anxious, unsettled and blindsided by our own actions.

So, I’ve found that if we can be very precise about exactly what we are afraid to be seen for and pinpoint the archetypes whose domain the fear is in, we make important discoveries about the programming that is holding us back.

For example, when I discovered it was the shadow of the Rebel archetype that was sucking the life out of me, causing me to hide, stuff my truth and fight meaninglessly without a cause, I began instead to fight for my freedom and the life of my soul, and instantly started to heal from a terminal diagnosis –and I never had to look back.

When the shadows of archetypes are clearly seen as the unconscious fear they are, the energy used to suppress them begins to free up. I don’t know how to heal from cancer, but freed up energy does. 

The Fear of Seeing Ourselves

And at the end of the day, when we are afraid of being seen by our family, peers and audiences, at the heart of it we are afraid to see ourselves in our wholeness, the gifts and shadows alike.

By making conscious decisions to go within and release the shadows, the gifts naturally rise to the surface. And by assuming the awakened voice of an archetype, the shadows naturally start to vibe with our awakening.

On the other side of letting the fears go is the realization that being seen is just the nature of being. For example, flowers don’t bloom for recognition or to receive anything. Growing up and doing much of my healing in my parents’ lavish and wild flower garden, I’ve heard those flowers speak of it at length.

They bloom to say “Wow, I am!!! How amazing is that?!” 

A flower naturally shows the fullness of its being, and it naturally attracts genuine love and appreciation that it doesn’t need. It blooms because that’s what it’s wired to do, end of story. 

It may be seen and appreciated, or it can be missed altogether. But that never will stop the flower from coming out in all its glory.

To Conclude

If your life purpose is busting out of you, you know it’s not enough to just hear the calling. That calling wants to be manifested and heard about by those who need to know what you know. And that means you must take the risk of being seen for who you really are.

Because our calling is how we fit in with our human species, it’s how we naturally give and receive. It’s what the Buddhists call our dharma – our right action and right place that is so often buried alive in our workaday world. 

With the simple steps I’ve shared, of knowing what’s worth the risk, realizing it’s so much bigger than you as an individual and then taking on the work of releasing the shadows that suck the life out of you, you will find much greater freedom and ease and sense of purposeful meaning in putting yourself out there. And you will naturally want to contribute to the world that needs it.

As long as we live in a world where humanity is enslaved, I stand for freedom and empowering others to get past their fears and be seen for their gifts.

Since surviving a three-year battle with cancer by working with archetypes, Beth Martens has helped others to be valued for their calling and create divinely aligned businesses. To learn more about Beth’s work building a community of gifted “MerPreneurs” for the betterment of humanity, visit bethmartens.com. 


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