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Yesterday I had a vulnerability hangover after posting a selfie.

Have you ever heard that term: Vulnerability Hangover? It’s a term coined by Brene Brown that she describes as: “the feeling that sweeps over us after we feel the need to connect… and we share something deeply meaningful. Minutes, hours, or days later, we begin to feel regret sweep over us like a warm wave of nausea.”

I had never pondered the overlap between that term and the feeling I sometimes had after posting a selfie but in that moment, it was clear…I was having a vulnerability hangover.

Sharing our selfies is vulnerable to many of us, especially when we’re going outside of our comfort zones, isn’t it.

So here’s what happened: 

I had just gone on a long run from my home to Granville Island along this beautiful seawall we have here in Vancouver. When I got there, I saw a wide open dock and decided to go stretch there as I cooled down from my run.

I’ve been working hard to shrink my body shame (rather than my body size) and have found myself able to comfortably rock running tights, which I was indeed wearing on this day.

After stretching I propped my phone up and used the Gorillcam Timer App to take a bunch of photos on the dock. This one caught my eye. We may have different reasons to choose our photos, sometimes because it feels like the one that is most in our comfort zone and other times because it is outside of our comfort zone…and we are ready to go there.

This was the case with the one you see above. I was able to step outside my old stories and look at her, the woman in the photo, as though she were a dear friend. I’m starting to be able to see this same way in the mirror when looking at my body too. I saw this photo and loved her curvature, the shape of her body against the wide open sky. So I went for it and shared it (and am including a few more here just to, you know, make it even more vulnerable to post this)!

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I felt 100% good about it in that moment.

But about 5 minutes later that wave of nausea hit.  Fiercely.

It came in the form of that voice, that inner critic that I’m grateful had taken a hike when I posted it.

“Did you just post a photo of your butt on Instagram?”

“Why in the world did you do that. Aren’t you embarrassed?”

“What if people think that is your belly not your butt?”

“Seriously? Why that one?”

And on and on.

Sigh. I thought I had posted this with love and that I wasn’t going to have to deal with my critic this time, but once again there it was.

Even though I had posted it feeling good about it, that sharing felt deeply vulnerable and the voice of my inner critic took the form of wondering what other people might be thinking. Deep down I knew that if they saw the photo with critique despite the fact I posted it with love, that was their story coming up and not mine.

What mattered was that I posted it with self-compassion.

And if I felt it in that moment I posted it, I could find my way back to it. 

It so happened that just then, I looked back at the photo and a wonderful woman had written “Love those beautiful curves”. Thank goodness for her…and thank you @wildspiritearth on Instagram. Having you mirror back that same reason why I posted it, the same kindness that in that initial moment of pressing the button to share it, that I had myself. It meant so much.

Yet sometimes there isn’t someone mirroring back kindness towards us. Or we may judge ourselves by how many comments we get or how many people like it and let that speak of the value of the photo rather than our own feeling about it. That nausea or panic might feel so overwhelming that we decide to delete it. I confess I’ve done that before. We get so caught up in all the stories of what other people are thinking after we take and share a photo.

People tell me they think they are doing this selfie-love thing wrong because they are having this reaction but really…this is the work of learning to see ourselves with kindness in our camera.

It is building that resilience in all the stages of the photo: taking it, looking at it, sharing it and even the ‘vulnerability hangovers’ that happen after we’ve shared it. Our resilience is needed in all of it.

It’s building that new story that we get to decide how we see ourselves and returning to that each and every time we have those doubts.

It’s not always easy. While over the years I’ve been building that resilience and I have these moments far less often (which OMG is such a relief). But they still happen. Especially as we keep pushing further and further outside our comfort zones.

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So Brene Brown’s term ‘vulnerability hangover’ came into my head in that moment of anxiety yesterday when that negative voice came up I was able to say in my head:

“Hey wait…I don’t usually post photos of myself from behind and this is new territory for me. But I saw my curvature with love in that photo and that is the new story I want to live in, not the old ones that not only don’t serve me but are also deeply unkind”

I repeated it to myself especially the words as though it was a mantra until it started to feel like it was soaking in and calming me.

It helped. And knowing it was in fact a ‘vulnerability hangover’ in reaction to that moment of sharing something outside my comfort zone. I think the more we find those terms or ways to wake ourselves up in these moments the easier it is to be resilient in them!

Sometimes it’s hard to pull ourselves out of all things we’re imagining other people thinking about our photo, but there’s only one truth we have control of…our own.

I had chosen to see myself through a lens of love when I posted it, and that is the truth I want to believe in.

How about you? Have you had a selfie vulnerability hangover (I bet most of us have). How did you get past it?

Nextbyobeloved

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  • We are funny creatures for sure! Before reading your post…my 1st thought of your picture was that of a strong, curvy body, small waist, beautiful day…I was not expecting the story that followed. But oh how it resonates with my story…more often than not!

    You are wiser than you know! No doubts, no regrets…great post…AWESOME picture! :-)ReplyCancel

    • Thanks so much Kim! While it’s super vulnerable to even share the story (i may be having a second vulnerability hangover over here) but its important for me to because I think it’s a common thread within so many of our stories, those voices that come up after we take or share our photo.

      And thanks SO much for leaving a comment lovely! In these days of Facebook and social media when sometime takes the time to comment on the blog post itself mean so much!ReplyCancel

  • vilma

    Love your Photo,I saw somebody having fun, looking up to the sky and enjoying a beautiful day!!! I understand you….ReplyCancel

  • I know this feeling all too well! I’m constantly battling “vulnerability hangovers” all of the time!

    I don’t think you have any thing to be embarrassed about! These photos are so creative (love the angle) and I agree with Kim, you look like a strong, curvy woman enjoying a beautiful day!ReplyCancel

    • Thanks so much Cole! Glad it resonated!

      Indeed, back in my non-vulnerability hangover self I totally agree have found myself back to that place of love again and am not at all embarrassed about it now at all. I tend to share a lot more of what my inner critic actually says than the average person cause I hope it will help us feel less alone in those moments of vulnerability…cause we all go through it in some way!ReplyCancel

  • This post made me cry. I see you. And I’m so thankful for the way you share yourself. xoReplyCancel

  • Honestly, if you allow me, I just see a beautiful soul! Whatever the curves… that, in my opinion, are just natural and real. The fact that our culture sadly celebrates skinny, almost anorexic figures (with all of the problems that this causes) doesn’t mean that they are more beautiful than curves or that those women don’t have very carefully hidden, embarassing curves or other parts of their bodies that they consider “embarassing” or “faulty”. And if it’s not about the body, probably it’s something else!! Hence hooray for those beautiful, happy curves!! Thanks for posting those pics.
    You go girl!!!
    xoxoReplyCancel

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I started exploring double exposures early on in my photo journey and what I found was that they felt like a beautiful balance to the creative energy of being a photographer. I thought they would be complicated and something I needed to perfect.

But instead I found something that surprised me.

What I found was that they opened the door to something that I couldn’t plan out, that I couldn’t control and well, that just felt really beautiful and from that point on, it has been something I return to regularly to get creative!

In offering the Double Exposure Love class starting soon, I figured if they surprised me…they just might surprise you.

So here they are…3 things you might not know about double exposures.

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You don’t need ‘perfect’ photos to make them

You truly don’t. The wonderful thing about double exposures is that it is a creative way to use your photos, especially ones that you may not have decided were your final outtakes.

Because we are layering the photos, you can’t see the detail of each photo, you just see the way they blend together. So if you’re not totally comfortable sharing your photos (or especially selfies) this is a great way to ease ourselves into it! Your photos truly don’t need to be perfect, in fact the ones that might have been ‘mistakes’ will probably work the best for double exposures!

So if that’s what feels like it’s holding you back from trying double exposures, let’s let that go! There are certain types of photos that I’ve found work best for double exposures but it’s not about what kind of camera you use to take them or even how perfectly exposed or in focus they are.

What matters more than your camera is just that you have an openness to experiment and have fun with the process!

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They work better when you experiment with them rather than plan them out!

This is my favourite thing about double exposures. They make us get out of our heads and into the creative experimentation of it. When I first started playing with double exposures there really weren’t such a thing as apps to use to make them. I’d just layer them in photoshop (which I’ll show you how to do in class too) or use a film or digital camera to take them. What I’d find is that when I tried to plan out the pairing the kind of fell flat.  But if I picked two photos where I thought ‘there is NO way these are going to work together’ often they were downright magical.

It wasn’t about how fancy my photos were, it was instead about how much I was willing to experiment. The super fun thing these days is that lots of the apps have a ‘randomize’ feature where they pair together two random photos on your photo stream. That is just the bees knees and often brings forth pairings that I couldn’t have even imagined.

So if you’re feeling like this is going to be something you’ll need to ‘perfect’ or figure out how to do perfectly, well…let’s let go of that too. Instead, we’ll embrace the imperfect, the unexpected and even the accidental to make photo magic!

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The secret really is having photos that are inspiring for double exposures! 

The big secret to taking double exposures is that there are certain kinds of images that well…just work really well for them! So while any photo could work for a double exposure, I wanted to share from the start (for real…as soon as you register for the class I send you a list of ideas for simple things to capture).

The good news too is that the best kind of photos for double exposures are also the same kind of photos that feel really mindful and calming to take. That sun peeking through the trees above you on your walk home? Awesome!  That flower that caught your eye this morning? Take a photo of it. The more simple the photos, the better.

So you see why I love double exposures so much…they sound much more relaxing than you’d think don’t they?

I’ll be digging further into these elements of double exposure in class as well as providing you with tutorials for how to actually make a double exposure in apps (like the Diana App) or on your computer in programs like PicMonkey and Pixlr Editor (which is a free program that is much like Photoshop).

Come geek out over double exposures with me!

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This week we reached the 3000 mark over on the Be Your Own Beloved Facebook page and to celebrate I wanted to host an EPIC giveaway to thank everyone there for their support! There will be 5 winners and the prizes are:

The giveaway started on Saturday and runs until Tuesday April 7th!

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I’ve done giveaways before but I’ve got to share, this one is feeling really different. Right from the very first comment entering the giveaway folks have just been leaving such kindness.

Usually with giveaways the comments are mostly ‘I’d love to win this’ which is totally fine but folks have been going above & beyond and are making my heart swell with your supportive, giving and loving comments about #beyourownbeloved. I’m feeling so deeply grateful for the love and wanted to take the above selfie to thank everyone for their kind words.

So, without further ado head on over and enter!

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Guess what!

I’ve gathered together 30 of my favorite tips & tricks for taking selfies (with love of course)!

So for the coming month I’m going to share 1 each day with you! The fun is happening over at my Instagram page which you can find here! Though if Facebook is more your style, I’ll also be sharing them to the Be Your Own Beloved Page too!

While they aren’t prompts, I hope they’ll inspire you to grab your camera and try them out each day!

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Each time I run Be Your Own Beloved I’m in awe of the things that come up, that challenge me to create new prompts, that I discover about ones that I’ve used so many times in this class but a participant experiences it in a new way, and by the depth, bravery & honesty of the participants.

Last session one participant mentioned that they found that when they did a prompt where they could set aside over planning the activity or let go of creative expectations, the healing awaited them.

This put to words something I’ve been feeling in my own self-portrait journey for a long time but have been fearful to talk about in my work as the wildly creative self-portraits are selfies people take are AWESOME and I don’t want to put words to their experience of taking selfies and say it isn’t as ‘healing’ as another.

I can only share my truth with you.

The more I try and plan out a shot, the less I feel like I leave room for the new stories that could arise for me. And when I do leave that space, they flow in each and every time.

The healing happens when I stop trying to plan out a shot.  When I keep it as simple as possible.  When I just make space to look at the woman in the lens and say “What’s your truth today my friend”.

I’ve shared this here before, that sometimes I see people’s wildly creative selfies and wish for a second that it could be my path. Yet I know that my path is all about finding my way home to my body, of taking photos that invoke freedom and the reclamation of my own voice defining how I see myself.  I know I’ll go deeper into elements of this as time passes, but they may never be the kind of photos you’d see up in a gallery, and that is 100% good with me. Because I’m not taking these photos to get anyone else’s approval or to have anyone else say they are enough. I’m taking them so I can see myself clearly and tell the woman in the image that she is enough, that she is beautiful and that I am proud of her.

I’ve learned that the more clearly I want to connect with this as healing journey, the more I need to take the pressure of myself for it to be anything other than a conversation between myself and the camera and let creative magic happen through light and playfulness.

So I wanted to share this with you today in case you’re feeling the pressure from yourself to get a technically creative or ‘new’ type of self-portrait for yourself, but really crave to return to the simple conversation that selfies can be.

Or if you are taking everyday selfies and putting pressure or judgement on yourself that they aren’t artistically composed enough.

You get to define how this journey goes for you.

And it’s not a ‘who can take the best selfie’ competition.

It’s you, showing up for the person in the lens and in the mirror and saying “I’m listening”.

So follow whatever path your intuition tells you when you pick up that camera to share your truth, but know that sometimes when we let go of the pressure to get a perfect or a creatively unique shot. When we take the pressure off of ourselves to get the right shutter speed or aperture. When we keep it simple, sometimes thats where the deeper story we need to tell begins…

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  • I’ve found this to be true. It seems when I have a brilliant idea for a self-portrait and try to set up something special, I tighten up and become self-conscious — and if I’m outside, inevitably an “audience” shows up. When I let go of my expectations and just go with the flow, I enjoy the experience so much more and usually like the results better, too.ReplyCancel