I see you putting up your hand and I notice that I’ve already dismissed you.

It’s not that there’s something wrong with you, or that you have something especially dismissible about your personality. On the contrary, I notice that you were one of the first people in the room to draw my eye. I doubt that I’m the only one that felt that about your impact.

There’s a quality about you that is radiant — magnetic even. I want to look in your direction. I want to notice you.

It’s not for these reasons that I dismiss you.

It’s that I notice you’ve already dismissed yourself. You’ve done all the work to set me up for this, before you even opened your mouth. The way you hold your hand casually in the air, while looking away from the person leading the room. The way you act surprised when you’re called on, as if you didn’t really expect it. The way you scrunch your face up into a funny gesture and make a joke as soon as its your turn to speak.

As long as you’re a surprising joke, you can be okay with the attention.

But now you’ve been called on, so it’s your turn to speak. And speak you do. For a while. Like you’re clambering to gather back all of the significance you’ve just leaked out into the space through your self-dismissal. Almost desperate for approval. I notice that it’s never going to be enough. The room will never be able to provide you enough significance and attention to match the rate at which you continually dismiss yourself.

You are insignificant because you have decided that long before anyone else does.

Ironically, the thing you ask for support around is in being seen and being significant. You want the world to remember you. You want them be impacted by you. How do you get people to take notice? How do you get them to stop dismissing you? It matters so much the they see you, you claim.

The person leading listens, and starts to provide some strategies for you to follow. Some ways you could broaden your scope, increase your reach. Create bigger audiences. Build your list and engage with the audience so that they stay on board and don’t fall off.

I’m shaking my head.

None of it will work. How do you expect the rest of the world to be able to compete with your own need for dismissal?

I open my heart as best I can and empathize and sit with you, energetically. I imagine what it’s like to simply be with you, in relationship. And I notice that it feels like a push-pull.

It feels like you are simultaneously demanding my attention and then deflecting and dismissing it.

It’s annoying. But more so, it’s heartbreaking. I can’t make an impact with you. There’s no actual way through this whirlpool. All I can do is sail into it and get caught in the perpetual loop.

No amount of creating an audience is going to make a difference. The leader can’t seem to see this. Their advice is giving you what you think you need, but it’s not actually going to make a difference for you. It’s just going to lead to more frustration as this epic blindspot continues to hold you in check. All it will do is raise the stakes for you — as you increase the pull for more attention, you’ll simultaneously need to increase the push to keep it at bay and dismiss yourself.

I see you’re nodding your head enthusiastically. The leader is giving you what you want: strategies and answers. It feels good — now you’ve got something to do.

You take copious notes as the leader finishes up, and then we go on break.

I walk over to you while we’re both preparing tea, and share, “Hey, I’ve got something for you that I think might make a difference. Would you like it?”

You smile patronizingly back at me (I’m not the leader. I’m just another participant here), “I’m really full up right now, and I’m pretty clear on what’s next. Maybe another time okay?”

I understand.

Maybe another time.