Posts Tagged ‘ courage ’

picturing FORGIVENESS

self forgiveness

We are often reminded of the importance of forgiving others. When we fail to forgive and harbor resentment, we usually only hurt ourselves (though we often feel self-righteous certainty that we alone were right. And sometimes we are right, but we certainly don’t hurt the other person — at all — by holding onto negative feelings).

However, I think it is much harder to practice self-forgiveness. Once we give up the illusion that we can (or want) to be perfect, we are going to have to come to terms with the fact that we aren’t perfect and that can be OK. In fact, we are going to mess up…sometimes we are going to mess up royally (at least I have anyway). Or at the very least, we are going to piss other people off because we aren’t going around with our usual people-pleasing antics.

In her book, the Gifts of Imperfection, Brene Brown talks about a related concept of self-compassion and the gifts that forgiveness and compassion of the self can bring us on daily basis. I’m trying to keep them in mind.

Self-kindness: Being understanding rather than critical when we fail or feel inadequate.

Common humanity: Recognizing that feelings of failure or inadequacy are common to everyone and in fact can be the key to connecting with others.

Mindfulness: Staying in the present moment and neither minimizing nor exaggerating our current feelings about the situation.

I don’t think that it is a coincidence that I got this stone from a friend (thank you Ms. Moser)…  I think it can be hard to have the guts to practice self-forgiveness unless we get permission from someone else. Today, I hope to pass that gift onto you — forgive yourself — whether it be for a small or large transgression. By doing so, you give others permission to do the same.

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picturing: LET THINE OWN SELF SHINE THROUGH

A few opportunities have recently arisen that have made me consider my pictures from a very different perspective. Most of the time, I have my eyes peeled for *interesting* photographic opportunities — seeing a unique color or texture. Noticing the light shining in an oh-so-perfect way. Trying out different points of view and focus points. In most of these situations, I feel grounded in myself as well as challenged by playful possibilities. What would happen if I focused here? It might be kind of interesting if I opened the shutter for longer. Although it can be challenging, it feels more like play than work.

Over the past week, however, I’ve adopted an outsider’s perspective of my pictures. I recognize that this can be a dangerous thing. After all, I study the adverse consequences of self-objectification, in which women adopt an outsider’s perspective of their bodies, focusing on their appearance more than their own thoughts, feelings, and goals.

Unfortunately, this is the perspective that I took of my pictures…instead of focusing on my authentic reaction — my thoughts and feelings — I instead adopted an outsider’s perspective and started wondering how my pictures would be viewed by others. What might other people think of these pictures? What kind of picture might I take that would have mass appeal? How do my pictures stack up to those of others?

This exercise in self-picturfication (yes, I made up that word…but it does have a nice ring to it) once again made me feel fearful about moving forward. To make matters worse, someone told me point-blank that they would not buy one of my pictures. Ouch. That hurt.

However, it served as a helpful reminder (we all know this, right?) that I need to let my own self shine through in my pictures (and in my life). If people don’t like the pictures? So what? For me, it might actually be riskier to try to cater to other people’s needs, rather than my own. As a recovering people pleaser, I’ve spent a lot of my life trying to anticipate and being anxious about what other people think of me. This has come at a great cost — often not being able to be authentic with others and sometimes myself. I don’t want to do this with my photography. After all, the thing that makes us love pictures is their uniqueness and authenticity. By worrying about what other people think, we often undermine our own creativity and sense of possibility.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to give up on potential opportunities to share my work with others. After all, that sense of connection is one of the most wonderful things about  art and creativity. However, I’m going to rest in faith that by letting our light shine through, focusing on the process instead of the product, that all will be well.

picturing COURAGE

Don’ t walk with fear in your heart.

This what my guide said to me after I slipped into the river about 10 feet above a waterfall we were hiking across in Tobago. It wasn’t a technically challenging hike. In fact, we had already done the brunt of the work. We simply had to hop across a few boulders in the stream to get to the other side. But my mind immediately went to the worst case scenario. What if I slipped and fell in? And guess what? That’s exactly what I did. After being fished out by Tom and the guide, I was perfectly fine, except for a few cuts, sopping clothes, and a raw ego.

So often we let fear of the unknown, fear of criticism, fear of rejection, fear of being imperfect, fear of seeming silly or self-centered, or fear of failure take up residence in our hearts on our life journeys. Ultimately, that fear rarely comes to fruition. And, if it does, we are often surprised to find that we have more courage in our souls than we gave ourselves credit for (and sometimes, in the end, we are grateful for fear manifest because we grow in unforeseen ways).

Most of the time, however, fear is much more insidious. It creates obstacles that don’t really exist. What if my manuscript gets rejected? Well, it definitely won’t get published if you never submit it. It makes the negative seem like reality, when the positive is just as realistic. What if someone thinks my photography sucks. Well, what if someone thinks your photography is inspiring? I don’t have time really means that I’m too scared to make space for this in my life.

Perhaps worse, we often pass that fear to others on our journey. Sometimes a well-meaning comment that stems from our own “stuff” — our worries and insecurities — can make our creative companions second-guess themselves. Fear can be like a virus, playing house in the spirits that we touch.

Today, I’m trying to picture the courage in my soul to move through the fear. Not to try to ignore it or act like I’m not sometimes scared shitless (about most things in life, actually), but to recognize it as a natural obstacle on all of our journeys. If we let the light, the universe, God,  shine on and work through us, it can replace that fear with courage. And that light opens our hearts and makes us bigger and stronger, ready to face and savor the inevitable challenges and victories along the way. Don’t walk with fear in your heart. I’m trying to focus on this simple statement in my photography, writing, relationships, running, and life, and walk out of the shadows of fear and into a bigger and more powerful me.