I used to cover my mouth, when I smiled.
Not just for photos, but in general.
I was embarrassed by my braces, my gaps, EVERYTHING. I was born with a visible birth defect called cleft-lip-and-palate and let’s just say my face was a construction zone until my last surgery at 21. 😬
The voice in my head said something like ‘no one will like you if they see your smile’.
And you know what, it took a lot of energy to hide my smile, because I liked to laugh. How do I cover my mouth while eating, while engaging, while also doing something else with my hands?
This habit continued later in life as well, after I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. I hid the insulin injections I had to take with every meal, snack, dessert… At first I would excuse myself from lunch with coworkers to do my thang in the bathroom. Then it was distracting folks with questions while I injected myself at the table. And on and on.
I was reminded of these habits recently, when I went out with my husband for our 12 year wedding anniversary. What an ironic day to be reminded of this self preservation behavior. We were sitting at bar stools (on a boat!) where there was a woman shucking oysters right in front of us. She was such a bright, shining light. She had big brown eyes, a kind kind spirit and a beautiful, genuine laugh. And she covered her mouth when she smiled. She had a cleft-lip.
It was like for the first time I could see myself from a different pair of eyes. I could acknowledge how I’ve changed and who I’ve become.
Over and over again in my life I’ve had to shed the beliefs about who I am. I’ve had to shed my fear of what others might think of me if I just gave myself permission to JUST BE ME. To not hide ANYTHING.
Damn, that is some hard work. But you know what? It’s what enables me to support others to do the same thing; quiet their inner critic voices and learn how to give permission to accept ALL aspects of who they are. Perhaps above all else to find levity and the freedom in not having to cover it up anymore.
So I thank my younger self, for doing what she felt she had to do to survive. And I’m so glad she found out that she can’t hide her shine.
Are You Wondering If You’re Hiding YOUR shine?
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- In what situations do you hold back from asking questions?
- How do take up physical space? Do you physically make yourself smaller?
- When and with whom do you censor your ideas?
- How are you literally be hiding your body?
- What was the last scary or bold move you made?
If you’re ready to RECLAIM your shine, schedule an exploratory call here to find out how I can help.
Original post on LinkedIn