Inner Reflections
July 18, 2022

What Mask Are You Wearing?

Glossophobia, the fear of public speaking, seems like an issue for performing artists entertaining huge crowds. Or perhaps an obstacle for politicians pining for our votes in an upcoming election, right? 

Rarely do we make the connection to how each of us experiences emotions surrounding communicating with others on a daily basis. Whether we’re speaking to an audience of one or communicating to a platform of millions, gulp, being visible to others can feel vulnerable and for some, quite terrifying.

Why is it so scary for us to be heard, to be seen, to be known? Are there any settings in which we are void of fear to speak out or live our truths? Honestly, I think very few. I think we all desire to feel loved, liked, valued and respected in both our personal and professional endeavors. I believe our fear of visibility is closely intertwined with our fear of rejection. 

The root of our sheepishness amongst each other stems from the fear of being judged by our communities, possible rejection from a lover or in some cases a callous insult on a social media site. This can reduce us to versions of ourselves, obsessed with being loved for a contrived persona, instead of who we truly are. Some of us have been wearing a mask far before covid and our souls are ready to unveil!

Imagine a world where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was intimidated into silence and never shared his iconic dream…What might contemporary music sound like today, without bold declarations by poetic lyricists like, Tupac Shakur – “I’m not saying I’m gonna change the world, but I guarantee that I will spark the brain that will change the world.”? What if your yoga teacher succumbed to that first seed of discouragement delivered in a scathing Yelp review? What if we were all paralyzed by fear of being the next target of a culture that can be very quick to offer “constructive criticism” in the form of verbal bullying? What a sterile world that would be?! So how can we interact with each other in a way that simultaneously fosters room for growth and authenticity?

Try being kind in speech. 

One of my favorite books is, “The 5 Love Languages,” by Gary Chapman. In this reflection the author shares his theory on how each of us very uniquely communicates and responds to expressions of love. One of the methods he describes to convey love is, ‘Words of Affirmation.” OMG, this is soooooo my language. I’m that girl. I send thank you cards, loving emails, mushy text messages, enthusiastic surveys, encouraging notes in colorful pens, etc… I’m pretty much a self-esteem cheerleader when I’m for you. And when I’m for you, you know it!

All that to say, words matter, so be kind in the words you think and speak to yourself and others. Words can bring life or death to anything, including a soul. Why tear someone down when you can be a ray of hope?

How can we become more confident in sharing who we are?

Here are some practices I find helpful to curb my fear of vulnerability.

I protect my heart.

Having the honor of connecting with a global community through teaching yoga & wellness practices is truly my life’s greatest joy! With that being said, I rarely read reviews of my offerings. This is a practice I’ve implemented in order to protect my heart. Though I do sometimes miss the delight of hearing testimonies and encouraging words posted on public platforms, I realized early into my career that I’m too empathic to ride the waves of other people’s subjective opinions about my worth or abilities to serve in the avenues I’ve been entrusted to. Fortunately, many of my students share their personal stories with me directly and that is all the fuel I need to keep doing what I do. To those who have blessed me with encouraging words and helpful feedback, thank you, really thank you so much!

I hope you are all mindful of whose opinions you feed your self-image with. Be aware of who you share your energy with. Guard your space with relentless love. You’re worth it!

I am intentional.

I choose an approach to life that is very conversational. I enjoy “breaking the fourth wall”, a throwback expression to my musical theatre days… Breaking the fourth wall removes any barriers between myself and my audience that would be separatory. I prefer to break down any walls that might distance me from the other humans I’m co-creating the experience with, both on and off the mat. I value comfort, transparency, and respectful conversation. Finding and using your voice is so much easier to do when you’re in a space where you feel safe and supported.

I practice self-love.

Self-love comes from within. None of us will ever reach perfection. Please remember that. You could make the best Jambalaya this side of the Mississippi and someone out there is allergic to shellfish! You will never reach a hundred percent approval rating and that’s ok. Be you. Do your best. Your tribe will find and adore you. Those not for you will gravitate to their tribes and that’s ok. Let your light shine brightly and never be shamed into being something or someone you are not.

I am committed to continued education.

I understand the responsibility I hold for the work that I do and for the relationships I steward. Therefore, I am a forever student. Each year I enroll in at least one certification or relational training program. It is important to me that I continue to deposit into my bank of intellectual and emotional intelligence. This assists me in remaining current and passionate about my teachings and experiences. I also have mentors, trusted peers, and a spiritual mother to help me stay the course of my purpose driven path.

I use a mantra. 

My therapist helped me craft this beauty that has worked wonders for me, “I am worthy of holding the responsibility of the opportunities I’m entrusted with.”

I truly hope this share uplifts and supports you in some way today.

With my love & gratitude for you and this community, namaste y’all. Be well.

As always, below are some recommended practices for authenticity:

By Denise