34 | Do You Ever Feel Guilty For Taking Up Space?

A recent Photoyoga exercise sparked a fascinating Haven discussion about taking up space in the world and how uncomfortable some of us find it at times.

If you ever feel bad about “being a burden”, “holding people back”, or “drawing too much attention”, this episode of The Gentle Rebel Podcast is for you.

In our June Open Kota session, Tuula encouraged us to capture our inner critic with a name and photograph and to think about the story it tells us and the words it uses. I discovered one of mine is called Rod and has a distinctive moustache. He pops into my head and tells me to play small, keep the noise down, and avoid attracting attention. You can see him in this video if you’re interested…

The Moustache Experiment

In this episode, I talk about an unanticipated experiment following the exercise. In an act of gentle rebellion, I refused to cede to Rod’s demand and shave his (my) moustache off. Instead, I made it more pronounced and allowed it to take up space on my face until I was no longer self-conscious about it.

High Sensitivity and Taking Up Space

We explored several reasons why introverted and sensitive people might find it challenging to take up space in the world. I share some of these in the episode and consider the influence of society and culture on how we feel about this.

Taking Up Space in Conversations

We considered how, for sensitive people, the fear of being too intense or too much for other people can lead us to stay quiet when, inside, we’re bursting with stuff to talk about. Maybe you’re met with a blank look, or you’ve been told “not to be weird” or “don’t worry about that stuff” when sharing things you can get lost chatting about. How do you find people to take up this kind of space with?

Asking For Help

We are less likely to ask for help when we fear being a burden. But as we discussed, asking for help doesn’t always feel that way for the other person. Sometimes, it’s in everyone’s interest and longing for us to take up space and ask for help.

When we are reluctant to ask for help, we might unnecessarily deprive ourselves of information and connection and deny the potential helper from doing something they would love to be part of.

Physical Space and Belonging

At the end of the episode, I share a recent story of an encounter with an angry guy in a field. It didn’t feel great, but it sparked another impromptu inner experiment that I was glad to have the opportunity to try. Not least because I could put theories from Deb Dana’s Anchored to the test. I had been reading it that morning, so it was fresh in my mind and helped enormously.

Does Any Of This Sound Familiar?

Did anything in this episode resonate with you? Are there particular aspects of taking up space that you feel bad about? Come and take up space by dropping a message or leaving a comment below. I would love to hear from you. Seriously!

Join Us in The Haven

If you would like to be part of our lovely Haven hive and explore these topics alongside some kindred spirits, I would love to invite you to join us in The Haven. It’s free for the first seven days so that you can get a feel for it without risk.

  1. Andy, thank you for articulating your experience with taking up space, feeling like a trespasser, and recognizing and responding to your physical needs. I plan to read Deb Dana’s book with you. Looking forward to practicing nervous system mindfulness.

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