Life Lessons From Behind the Lens: We See What We Want to See
Life will always be a crazy hectic blur of messy simultaneous things happening all at once, loudly interfering with one another, and pulling you, everything and everyone in it in a million different directions. It’s so easy to get swept up in the chaos of that rip current, and become so ungrounded and uncentered that we have no idea which way is up, what we want, who we are, or where we’ll catch our next breath, and then judge ourselves for not having it all together.
Just like a person can choose to stay calm, not panic, and swim parallel to shore when they are caught in a rip tide, the bottom line is that the experience of life that we have, fully depends on what we choose to focus on. The key is to find a way to break the cycle and reprogram ourselves to choose something different. As with photography as well as life, we must train ourselves to find the clarity in the chaos, which really allows us to notice and focus on the beauty in the mundane.
That’s not to say that those stressors will magically disappear, because they simply won’t. Rather, you will find that your ability to manage them will get stronger as you work on retraining yourself to filter through the mess and choose your focus. Even better, you will become more aware of the things you were overlooking before, when all you could see was the worst case scenario.
It’s a mindset that really works across the board. It’s the moment at a photoshoot (or interview, or business lunch) when you catch yourself staring like a do-do bird, since you’re either not thinking anything or over-thinking everything, and knowing how to cut through the chaos to show up in your most authentic state. It’s the conscious decision to not tear apart a photo of yourself the way you usually do, because you think your face is crooked, your nose hooks down, or your smile is too gummy (I’m talking to myself here!), and instead, own your looks because they make you, “You”. Next time you find yourself drowning in the chaos and anxiety of stress, self-doubt, or self-scrutiny, remember these five steps.
1. Slow down and stop. It’s like doing the “Stop, Drop and Roll” when you’re on fire. You have to “Stop” first. The sooner you notice you’re “on fire”, the sooner you can do something about it. You can stay and flail in the chaos, which usually makes everything worse, or you can choose to do something to make it better.
2. Take a beat. The world is not going to fall apart because you decided to stop what you’re doing for a second and take a deep breath. I’m talking about the belly expanding, muscle relaxing breath you feel when you go for a full-on yawn. Do that a couple times and I challenge you to say that it didn’t help anything.
3. Systems Check. Now that you can cut through the noise, notice that you’re perfectly OK. In this moment, you’re not drowning, you have no predatory animals chasing you, you’re not on fire in any way. For better or for worse, you’re right where you are, and nowhere else. Yes, there may be some things that you’re not thrilled about, or situations that are bothering you, but the fact is, you are totally OK right now, and you are more than capable of figuring out how to remedy or manage whatever situation you are in. You’ve got this. All you can do is the best you can do, and you can let go of everything else, because it really doesn’t matter.
4. Reset. You know that moment when your eyes get glassed over and checked out, and your energy is a little stale and stiff? You have the complete power to click back into your body, and explode with a dynamic and powerful intention, which comes through in your eyes, energy and physicality. When we’re shooting with somebody, we call this a “Reset”, which you can do anywhere, as often as you need to. It’s a powerful tool that you can take with you, develop quickly, and it takes about 5 seconds. As you take a deep breath and look down, get centered and remind yourself of the specific energy that you want to create when you enter a room. Remember the effect you want to have on others, the impact you want to have in the world. Feel the energy of that game-face intention inhabiting your eyes and your body, and allow it to fuel you during the task at hand. Reset again whenever you need to.
5. Celebrate every win. Now that you are consciously trying to come from this new, powerful and mindful space, you’ll notice a lot that you might have missed before. That’s something to celebrate and be inspired by. Instead of beating yourself up that you may have missed out on so much in the past, or that you’ve found yourself in that space again (that’s life!), notice and appreciate what you are experiencing in this moment, and celebrate that you now have the tools you need to find your way out whenever you need to.
Remember that you are on a quest to slow down and notice the humor and beauty in the world around you- the shy but magical admiration from a child, the heart sticker somebody put on a public bathroom mirror, the funny random things that just happen. These small moments feed your soul, your soul fuels you and your decisions, your attitudes and actions affect the people around you, and ultimately create the impact you have on the world. Those “meaningless” moments are suddenly the most important ones to notice and carry in your pocket. Maybe the beauty of life is that you get to choose what you focus on.