Before we dive in to this week’s podcast episode, I’d like to acknowledge that the lessons here have taken a bunch of years to condense into anything even remotely resembling words. My first impulse when it comes to facing the world is to hide 100% of the time. I prefer to hermit and retreat and withdraw. Those are tendencies I actively push against and question on an almost-daily basis. So.
I know, you’d rather hide.
At a business level, it’s scary to let your work be seen. You’ve heard that ‘if you build it, they will come,’ and they’re not coming. Maybe you should…build it again? Pin ever-more-complicated options to Pinterest and save up to give someone ten grand and solve it for you? Hope for the best and get a second job?
Or you say you’re ready to take on more clients or sell more work, but you can’t bring yourself to respond to emails, phone calls, or inquiries when they come in.
What’s wrong with you, and with your business? There must be something so secretly, desperately wrong that everyone but you can see it, right?
You’re probably a master of hiding.
Here are some really fun, reaaaaaally smart ways I’ve hidden my work:
For years, only print versions of books were available, even though ebook versions are easier for me to host and sell — and also more profitable. (Pay what you can for any of my books here.)
For (again) years, I consistently forgot to read my poems on the podcast or share them anywhere at all. Did my bio identify me as a poet? Yup. Did that translate to my sharing more? Not without effort.
I used to mention something once or twice, casually, and then assume it was a failure because it didn’t sell out instantaneously. LOOKING AT YOU, EVERY ENTREPRENEUR EVER!
Repetition is a kindness.
Everyone has too many emails, too many mundane tasks, too many notifications, and not enough brain space to see, love, read about, and buy a product in one fell swoop. It’s often the third or fourth mention that garners any real interest, and only firm deadlines that make people respond in a decisive way. (Also if you’d like to break up with your phone, meet Space, a 21-day email class to help you do just that!)
I used to think no one wanted to hire me if they didn’t respond to my offerings immediately, even after I began repeating myself again and again.
I routinely have people sign up for coaching who tell me how many years they’ve been following me. Current record: nine.
It’s a long game, people. (Also, there are six coaching spots left and you should talk to me about working together, okay? K@kristenkalp.com)
For years, I ended my talks about things for sale in question marks (I’m coaching?) and only noticed it later when listening to the podcast. I. AM. SO. AWESOME.
I also used to rush sales talk and then relax when I got to the free stuff. Only That’s What She Said is an ad-free, not-sponsored podcast, so I have every right to talk about how to hire me and purchase my work within it. (You have the right to do the same with the things you offer, too.)
Here are some ways you might be hiding in business:
🌈 Can I easily locate buy now, book now, or e-mail me buttons? Is there an easy way to purchase what you’re selling?
🌈 Can people figure out where you’re located easily, particularly if you have a local business?
🌈 Do you have a separate sales page for each product or service you offer, or are you hiding your best one with a ‘coming soon’ placeholder and/or outdated information?
🌈 Are your current products prominently placed or featured in menu bar?
🌈 Can we easily access the work you prefer to be paid for doing?
🌈 Can people sign up to hear more from you through an e-mail list?
🌈 No really, an e-mail list: can you access people in their inbox at a time of your choosing? (Need help? Zero to email list in 15 minutes.)
🌈 Do you actually send e-mails to the people who have signed up to hear more from you? (Need help? How to F*&*ing Communicate is for you.)
At a personal level, hiding gets worse.
You want to hide from the globe (see: systemic oppression, Amazon fires, melting polar ice caps, rise of fascism, etc, etc, etc…), and then from your life (see: never-ending productivity and routine and WHY AM I NOT ON A TROPICAL BEACH WITH MY OWN PERSONAL BUTLER RIGHT NOW) and then from yourself (despair? Nipping at myyyyyy heels? No, never!).
But you tell yourself you have to keep going.
So you shove down the despair, show up for work, watch the news, contribute to campaigns and causes like a good citizen, and feel…not one iota better.
Why do you still feel like a bundle of yuck? Because step one was shoving down your feelings.
It was labeling one particular emotion ‘bad’ or ‘unproductive’ or ‘negative’ or simply not allowed, and then plowing over it with your everyday activities and hoping it wouldn’t return. But of course it returns, so you shove it down HARDER, like a kid trying to hold bigger and bigger beach balls under water for days and then weeks and months at a time. Of course it’s not working, but you just have to try HARDER, right?
Just try harder and harder and put in more and more effort and hope no one notices how you’re getting more and more dead inside. OR you can start to come out of hiding.
Ways you might be hiding in life, sourced from my own hiding places:
🌈 Do you talk about things that matter to you or try to keep conversation easy breezy, no big deal?
🌈 Do you admit your desires and dreams and the ways you want to make meaning in the world to yourself? …to others?
🌈 Are you consistently turning down the volume on yourself so as not to be seen as ‘too much’ of something?
🌈 Are you consistently turning up the volume on everyone else so that you can no longer hear your own tiny whispers of identity and intuition?
I’ve been there and tried alllll the tactics to just shut the hell up and be less sensitive.
They failed. Miserably.
What if…you let yourself feel what you’re feeling?
What if you let yourself feel the despair and the hardship and the pain and all the things you cannot change — and then let those particular pieces of pain go, simply because you cannot change them?
Not because you don’t care or don’t try or don’t have enough useful and intersectional beliefs, but because you are one single human.
No matter how much you try or how many ‘you have the same number of hours in the day as Beyonce’ memes you consume.
You’re just one person.
How can you begin to make peace with a.) the fact that you can’t change everything,
but b.) you can absolutely change SOMEthing, when you decide what that something is?
You start with your own interiors.
When you decide to stop hiding, you begin to navigate through the loneliness and mess and doubt that lives within you, and come out the other side better and lighter and more joyful than you’ve ever been.
That sounds impossible and silly and GOD YOU’RE SO NAIVE KRISTEN and also…don’t you hope that it’s possible?
To be able to sit with despair and then rise up and do your work.
To look the messes in your life in the face without fear or judgement.
To face the loneliness within your heart and hold it tenderly, without trying to make it wrong or bad or a sign that you’re broken.
To catch doubt doing its asshole brain thing — and then to keep going, without believing a word it says.
That’s my hope for every human on the planet — that you’ll find a method, a practice, or a way of being that helps you give up hiding from yourself first, and from the world second.
For me, that practice is breathwork. I held a live breathwork session in Philly this week, and I was amazed by the amount of energetic and emotional clearing we completed in about an hour. Eight women laid down on the floor of a knitting shop, were introduced to the breath, and got to work.
They ranged in age from their twenties to their seventies, and each one wiped her eyes and thanked me when we finished breathing. They let go of shame and doubt and rage and grief and pain, and they also laughed and giggled and smirked and shook their hips and got freer than they had been a few hours earlier. They all reported that time got wobbly, and that they’d never experienced anything quite like it before.
Breathwork is work, yes, but it’s also a no-accessories-needed way to come home to yourself.
You lie down, you do the breathing pattern, you come back to reality a short time later as a lighter and freer human. (For you: a whole podcast episode about breathwork.)
If breathwork seems like diving into the deep end — that’s exactly what it is.
Starting a breathwork practice can be scary for lots of people, which is why The Softness Sessions are a slower, steadier entry point for giving it a try.
In The Softness Sessions, you’ll hear me talk, podcast-style, and then we’ll do a short breathwork practice. It gets longer every week for six weeks, and then we’ll finish with a full-length live session for everyone in the program.
If you’re scared of your own interiors because you’ve been ignoring them for a long time (or possibly forever);
if you’re curious about breathwork but are afraid this won’t work or you won’t get your money’s worth or you haven’t found a practitioner you love;
if you’d like to find out if those things I said about loving yourself through mess and doubt can be true for you;
if you’d like to continue to explore what’s going on within you instead of shoving your emotions into tiny containers and hoping they disappear;
The Softness Sessions are for you.
They’re for coming to terms with your own humanity softly, and slowly, and with great care.
I know you’d rather plow ahead and do everything ever, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, because the world is literally on fire, and overachieving tendencies die hard. (Also: feelings. You have too many of them and you want to ignore them entirely. I’ve been there and committed myself to that for A WHOLE DECADE and can report that Try Not to Feel Anything Experiment as Failed. Completely.)
I know you’re not sure you can make any sort of difference because you’re just one human and you can’t keep your car clean, so how are you supposed to make some sort of global impact.
I know you’re tired of being tired, and I know you know the answer isn’t adding butter to your coffee or taking 16 new supplements.
There’s a place of deep rest and peace within you. Promise.
You can access it any time you like through breathwork.
That’s scary, yes, and intimidating, yes, and also wildly freeing and gorgeous and stunning and lovely, too.
Hiding isn’t the end of your story. It’s the beginning.
Because when you stop hiding — well, that’s when things get way more interesting.
We’ll use breathwork, writing, poetry, podcasts, art, and intuition to free you from the alluring and seductive chains of invisibility. It’s time to be seen, already.
Let’s start with you seeing yourself clearly.
P.S. Softness is the secret.