My 30+ year ago self. Can I treat myself now with as much kindness, encouragement, and permission as I would treat her?
Although I’ve worked in the mental health and healing arts world for 15 years, I feel in some ways I’ve learned more about people’s psychology in the past year of doing portrait photography than any year prior.
Many people say that having their picture taken is one of the most insecurity provoking situations. It’s as if the camera’s mere presence brings them into contact with every bit of self-consciousness and self-judgment that lurks within them.
I completely understand this feeling. When I’m in an insecure space and a camera gets pointed at me I am super not into it and more or less assume I’ll be deleting that picture.
We are SO hard on ourselves. So quick to focus in on what’s imperfect, unacceptable, not good enough. But who in us decides what is and isn’t good enough, attractive enough, loveable? Who in us are we identified with that’s in a position to dish such judgment? And, why do we believe it?
At some point we have to let ourselves off the hook. We have to put down the slaying, stop believing the constant stream of judgment, stop identifying as an insecure self, and decide to love and enjoy ourselves as-is. Right?
Everyone I’ve presented this to agrees whole-heartedly. YesYesYES. The insanity of self-judgment, insecurity, and self-imposed repression has to end. We have to give ourselves permission to freely be ourselves.
Fantastic. I couldn’t agree more. So to make it real, I ask you: What’s something you’ve not been doing because of self-judgment and insecurity that you can do now to show yourself that you are not controlled and held down by the egoic judge within?
The possibilities are endless! If you observe your desires throughout the day you’ll likely find you have a desire to do all sorts of things. That like a child, a more or less constant stream of inspiration is moving through you. But just as quickly as desire moves, so does the judge smashing your ideas down with “logic”, lies, and manipulative criticism.
Which one of these voices are you going to listen to? Which muse has your best intentions at heart and genuinely wants you to enjoy your life? We all KNOW the answer to this but if we don’t ACT from this awareness, our insight remains conceptual instead of something that’s embodied and real in our lives.
DOVE AD “CAMERA SHY”
Recently Dove put out another one of its thought provoking ads (at the bottom of this post). This one’s called “Camera Shy” and it asks:
“When did you stop thinking you were beautiful?”
It shows little girls loving their reflection and expression and women, as they get older, increasingly shying away from the camera. I’ve had this conversation with women a lot in the past year and it usually starts with a woman saying to me she loves my pictures, she can see something healing and wonderful is happening in what I’m doing, and would love to get her picture taken… if only she was 10 years younger.
I understand what people are feeling when they say this but I also see that believing these stories about ourselves strengthens the hold self-judgment has on us. So, I usually respond by asking if she remembers how she felt about herself 10 years ago. The person usually bursts into laughter and says “Oh, I was so insecure. I was so fearful. And I thought I was fat! OMG I would do anything to have that body. I looked GREAT! I wish I would have enjoyed it more.”
To which I say: The same is true now. Your 10 years from now self will 100% say the exact same thing to you now – that you’re lovely, beautiful, and wonderful and you should really enjoy this moment of your life. If you want to get a photo shoot or do anything else, you should do it. Almost always another big round of laughter and agreement ensues. But just as this realization occurs and an inkling of freedom opens, the judge comes barging in with a litany of criticism and unless the woman sees this for what it is, most people feel like they’re being hit by a firing squad and quickly sink back into insecurity.
TAKE A RISK
I really really really empathize, understand, and relate to this. But I also see that if we’re going to narrow the gap between the self-love, appreciation, and enjoyment we easily feel for our 10, 20, 30+ years ago selves to giving this to ourselves now, we have to DO things to 1) internally and mentally stand up for ourselves and claim our right to well-being, and 2) walk our self-love talk and make this acceptance and permission real in our lives.
To me this means we have to literally make a list of what we’ve been holding ourselves back from doing and living because of self-judgment and with love, go do these things. We have to walk through the insecurity to get beyond our habitual ways of heeding to it so we can expand our sense of self through experiencing increasing freedom to be, express, and enjoy ourselves.
Just because a story – and these beliefs that we’re not good enough, pretty enough, smart enough, powerful enough, etc. ARE stories – is repeated over and over in our minds doesn’t make it true. Your egoic judge does not work 24/7 to convince you the sky is blue because it’s an obvious truth that needs no further discussion. But it does work 24/7 to make you feel insecure because it’s a flat-out lie that you’re anything other than amazing, wonderful, and powerful and it takes 24/7 kind of work to get you to believe something so far from the truth of who you are. Ego isn’t going to stop its game. But we can stop believing it, stand up for ourselves, and engage in our lives in more expressive, vulnerable, adventurous, and self-loving ways.
Isn’t she cute? Yeah, you’re that cute too. Truly.