The women I work with are typically sensitive, empathetic, and very conscious of the needs of others.
All of these things are amazing traits and skills, but they often feel hesitant to take up their rightful space because they are so attuned to making sure others feel comfortable.
They don’t want to “hog” attention or make everything about them, so they often swing in the direction of making themselves small, quiet, and unobtrusive.
Before I go any further, let me expand on what “taking up all your rightful space” actually means.
Taking up your rightful space means the freedom and ability to be fully yourself in your relationships, the ability to express your opinions and thoughts, being able to have reciprocal dialogue where each person has equal air time, having your needs and desires be considered with equal weight, and sharing equal power in your relationships.
When you take up all your rightful space you are saying effectively that you matter just as much as the other person.
Here are some of the most typical scenarios I hear women tell me about where they aren’t taking up their rightful space:
-when they get together with a friend, the friend takes up the vast majority of the time talking and sharing about themselves and it’s only in the last 5 minutes of their time together that they ask, “so tell me what’s going on with you?”
-their family members have more “dominant” types of personalities where they seem to take up all the energy in the room. They remain quiet about what is going on in their hearts and lives, and allow their family to dominate conversation.
-their partners have strong opinions on what they want to do in their free time together, and they go along with what they want
-they keep their thoughts, opinions, and ideas quiet at work despite having years of experience and expertise
One of the biggest reasons that the women I work with don’t step forward into taking up their rightful space is that they fear that if they start taking up space, they will end up taking up ALL the space.
But taking up your RIGHTFUL space does not mean taking up ALL the space; it means taking up the space that is rightfully yours when you’re in right relationship with others.
We can learn to both be aware of ourselves AND aware of others (not just one or the other).
The work for the vast majority of the women I work with, because they have been so attuned to others, is to simultaneously be aware of themselves and bring themselves forward to take up their own rightful space.
I want to set your mind at ease: if you’ve been in the habit of playing small and not taking up your rightful space, chances are, you’re not going to end up taking up ALL the space, because you’re already so attuned and aware of others. The growth edge is to actually take up MORE space, the space that has always been yours to occupy.
Tips For Taking Up Your Rightful Space:
- Instead of focusing only on holding space for others in conversation, start making your goal to also share yourself.
Holding space for others can feel so good to us, especially if we have been taught that this is where our worth comes from (thanks, culture!) But we will feel more connected and true relating can occur when we share ourselves as well as hold space for others.
In some of your stable relationships, if you’ve noticed yourself primarily being a space-holder, start to share more of yourself in small ways that feel comfortable. Small, sustainable steps are key.
2. Start to voice what YOU want to do in your relationships
If someone else has strong opinions about what they want to do, it can be so easy to go along with it.
Before blindly agreeing, check in with yourself.
What would YOU want to do if no one else was involved?
Practice voicing what you would like to do to a safe person.
3. Start practicing holding attention both on yourself and your external environment/others simultaneously.
Sitting with your feet on the floor and your eyes closed, do a full body scan. Notice any sensations that you feel in your body. Do you feel any buzzing, constriction, tightness anywhere? Do you feel any areas of neutrality? Do you feel anywhere that feels pleasant, at ease? Simply notice and take some time feeling your sensations and being aware of them.
Next, gently bring your eyes open. Shift your focus to what is happening in your environment. See the room as though you were looking at it for the first time. What are some textures you notice? What is the light doing? Are there any smells you notice?
Now, see if you can keep 70% of your attention on your own physical sensations and 30% of your attention turned outwards to your environment. This takes time and practice, so don’t get frustrated if it’s difficult at first!
You can play with different percentages of attention, as well as play with this exercise in your relationships, keeping some of your attention on yourself (your needs, desires, physical sensations) while keeping some of your attention on the other person.
You taking up your rightful space doesn’t mean there isn’t enough room for others; in fact, it encourages others to take up their space unapologetically as well.
I’d love to hear from you: do you fear that there won’t be room for others if you take up your space? I’m happy to give you some customized tangible action tips. Leave a comment below.
So much love,