Yesterday when I was on a direct flight home from New York to Denver, I decided to watch a light chick flick called “I Feel Pretty”. Now, don’t rush out and add it to your watchlist, it's pretty basic, and yet when you are open for messages, sometimes you can get “ah ha” moments in the most unlikely of places.
The film follows a girl who is very self-conscious, feels invisible and just wants to be beautiful (haven’t we all felt that way at times?). During the movie she hits her head and has an odd case of body dysmorphia, where she sees herself as gorgeous with the perfect body, while nothing on the outside has changed. This leads to an incredible boost of confidence where she makes eye contact, is more outgoing, applies for a dream job, flirts, etc. and ends up with everything going her way. She lines up a love interest, exciting job, and just general luck and ease in the world. (*spoiler alert) Towards the end of the film she hits her head again and is returned to normal. This leads to a free fall of self sabotage until she realizes that her outward appearance never changed and it was just her confidence that made all the difference. Of course this film is just focused on the simplicity of beauty, but I felt pretty inspired by the idea that we are all at choice in how we are operating in the world. #confidence
Being someone who likes spontaneity and games, I decided to test it out when I got off the plane. Instead of letting my self-critical or self-conscious script play (hey we all have it at times -- especially after a celebratory weekend of a little too much alcohol and carbs), I was reciting all the things I love about myself, that I was proud of, and grateful for. I was smiling, beaming energy and looking people in the eyes as I passed them. I’ll admit that this takes a bit of energy but it is also energizing! Everything moved smoothly on my trip home and I noticed how people were affected by my positivity and how they were noticing my good vibes and energy. It felt great. This proceeded to play out to a really nice evening reconnecting with my love at home, going out to dinner and interacting with more folks. I’d say the experiment was a success and one that I plan to try on more and more.
I am a fan of self-awareness tools like personality tests and types. One that I resonate with is the Enneagram (something I do recommend you looking up if you are curious). I run the #1 or Perfectionist Type, although we are known for honesty, dependability and common sense; our attention goes toward seeing and correcting what is wrong, and doing the right thing. With this comes wanting to be in control, creating rules, judging others for not following said rules (unbeknownst to them), and a lot of self-criticism. All this tension leads to frustration, anger and disappointment. It can be a painful path when I am operating in my lower level and am not aware or working to shift my orientation towards joy, beauty, seeing the gold in others, etc.
This self understanding is still rather new to me and is mirrored to me quite beautifully by a younger Perfectionist Type on my team. She often gets frustrated with other team members for being “unprofessional” and not understanding or getting the systems. Then she complains about the others to me and sends short bristly communications to them. Although she does not say how she is feeling or airs her grievances to their faces, the energy of her thoughts still sits in the air and is felt by the other.
In a practice of connected communication called Authentic Relating, they teach about “We space”. They say that in any relationship there are actually 3 entities, each person and the “we space”. All of the judgements, things left unsaid, and past hurts can sit in that space, until they are discussed. They teach people to monitor the “we space”, discuss what is going on there and work on making it a yummy healthy space instead.
To bring my really long tangent full circle =): I realized yesterday that when I am focused on what is right and wrong in the world (a natural tendency), that frequency of thought is physically hanging in the air for someone to pick up on and likely misinterpret. When I walk through someone’s home looking at the things out of place or items that I don’t quite like, the interesting choice of someone’s outfit, or thinking someone made a stupid mistake, that all effects our connection -- effects how I feel (it’s a sticky gross feeling in my experience) and brings down my ability to shine in the world.
I am an avid reader and one of the 5 or so books of the moment is Belong by Radha Agrawal. The section that I read yesterday mentioned how Social Media promotes the “Mean Girl” or tendency to compare, judge others, and feel the need to be perfect. These reactions create more space rather than connection.
I wanted to share my revelations with you all and encourage you to make the effort (this definitely can take some mental training) to shine bright! Clean up your thoughts, orient towards the positive and see what magic can unfold for you in the world.