A Spiritual Sucker Punch

[dc]R[/dc]ecently, I had to step out of my comfort zone into an area that I knew would be challenging for me, but I had no idea how much “stuff” it would bring up.

An upcoming teaching engagement at Kripalu, a popular spiritual retreat center in Massachusetts, required a head shot from me for their marketing materials and they needed it right away. Having a professional head shot done has been on my to-do list for years – literally. I never made it a priority because I could get by with the picture I took with my computer, and because I like being the one behind the camera.

Each time I considered setting up a shoot, I’d talk myself out of it. “I want to wait until I lose some weight.” “I don’t like my current hair style.” “It’s too much work to find a reputable photographer.” I used all sorts of excuses to avoid this step, which was really just my resistance coming up; resistance that I thought was rooted in not loving my appearance. Boy, was I wrong.

I start my process by thinking about my photographer search. Then I remember – duh! – a long-time friend of mine is a photographer! I’d certainly feel more comfortable with her than a stranger. I ask her to do the shoot, making sure to tell her how apprehensive I am and asking her to be gentle.

As another self-care move, we plan to take the shots at my home and at the beach – a place where I always feel super grounded. I also schedule an appointment to have my makeup done at a salon right before the shoot so I can feel pampered.

The day comes and there’s no turning back. We start with some shots in my house. As I position myself in a super awkward pose that Lisa assures me will result in something great (she was so right), I find myself darting my eyes away from the lens as she prepares to shoot. OK, I know I don’t like my picture taken, but I feel almost assaulted by the lens as it’s pointing at my face. I want to retreat, hide, and disappear.

What the hell is going on? Alright, Kerri, pull it together. Lisa does her best to help me relax by acting goofy and cracking jokes, and I get back in my awkward pose. She lifts the camera, and seemingly outside of my control, my eyes shoot to the floor.

I eventually get through the shoot (and dare I say, even have a little fun), but a bit rattled by the experience. That evening, I sit to journal about it, and as I let myself just write freely, I’m stunned at the line on the page: “I don’t like to be seen.”

I go back and read the line again and again. “I don’t like to be seen?” Well, that seems silly. I’m a business owner for goodness sake! Oh, yeah, I do most of my work virtually – over the phone and the computer. Fitting approaches, I guess, for someone who prefers to “hide.” Whoa. I never would have thought of myself that way, but so is the power of a deep, old, blocking belief. “It’s safer to be invisible.”

Well, that need for a head shot ended up being quite the universal nudge, didn’t it? As my work continues to grow and expand, this is not a belief I’d like to subscribe to anymore. I think of the hundreds of conversations I’ve had with clients over the years about how to walk in a new, empowering belief. Guess it’s time to take my own advice.

As soon as Lisa sends me the final shots, I email one to the retreat center, and then immediately put one on my website and change my profile pics on both Facebook and Twitter. To hell with you, Invisible Belief! While there’s still miles to go before I sleep, getting those photos out there feels like a step in the right direction.

Here are some of the shots:

   head shot

One thing that helps while we’re on a scary new road is to not feel alone. So, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. Where in your life do you feel uncomfortable or hesitant? What do you suspect is the source of this discomfort? Now, what do you think is really going on?

Camera lens photo credit

23 replies
  1. Robin Whitcore
    Robin Whitcore says:

    Great post! And since you are asking for some sharing… I recently came under the realization that people really do care what I think and it has totally freaked me out! I was so used to growing up being criticized, and comfortable unconsciously choosing friends that were also critical, that I never thought for a moment that someday people would like ME enough that they really cared about me and respected who I am. I have been consciously working on speaking and living my truth and also very aware that I didn’t want people in my life that were critical of me anymore. I never gave much to thought as to what would happen as a result. I was surprised to find my discomfort in my new paradigm of supportive people! My only fear is that I was so comfortable living the other way that I will do something to sabotage myself. What also goes through my mind is that I don’t want to be responsible for influencing other people too much. I want people to feel empowered and not give any of their power to me in making decisions in their lives. I’m just taking it one day at a time and living consciously in appreciation as well as humility so neither will happen. An ability to laugh at my discomfort a bit helps lighten it too! 🙂

    And congratulations on your upcoming Kripalu event! You were wonderful when I came to see you at Circles of Wisdom! You’re going to rock it!

    • Kerri
      Kerri says:

      Thanks for sharing, Robin. Isn’t it so enlightening (and a bit tricky) when we identify that a certain way we’ve been operating in the world is stemming from an old belief? The tricky part comes in shifting it, but it sounds like that’s just what you’re doing. Good for you! As long as that sweet, little girl inside feels held and safe in your new belief, the chance of self sabotage is pretty darn slim. Keep being her soft place to fall, and I’ll do the same for mine. 🙂

  2. Joan Borgatti
    Joan Borgatti says:

    Kerri, This blog hit a nerve with me and I suspect will with many of your followers. Being seen is a huge risk that runs right to the core of “am I good enough?”. We seldom see our own value and beauty, so we avert our eyes from the mirror and from life. Your photo just radiates with your inner (and outer) beauty. Lisa captured the real you. Consider the photo a knock-out punch!

    • Kerri
      Kerri says:

      Thanks for your comment, Joan. It’s nice to hear others can relate. And thanks for your very sweet words about my photo. 🙂

  3. Annie R.
    Annie R. says:

    That hit home Kerri, I always felt I could never hold an intelligent conversation when I was in a group, but now I realize I can, my friends have told me on several occasions that I am .

    Thanks I have more confidence in myself now.

    • Kerri
      Kerri says:

      Thanks for joining the conversation, Annie! We are always so hard on ourselves. Maybe it would be helpful for you, too, to look back and try to figure out when you first believed that you weren’t capable of holding an intelligent conversation. Did someone call you stupid? Sounds like your little girl could use some love, too! It’s time to remind her that she is a brilliant, shining light that deserves to be seen from the heavens!

  4. Aida
    Aida says:


    I believe I have the same belief as I avoid having my photo taken like the plague. When I do get a photo taken I make sure I look really bad in it, I either have a weird look on my face or stand wrongly. I guess I make sure that the picture actually does look as bad as I believe it to. I’m working on it.

    • Kerri
      Kerri says:

      Really interesting, Aida, and an interesting tactic to protect yourself from the negative inner voice. If you make a goofy face in the photo, you save yourself from judgment (presumably from others, but more likely, from yourself). It’s like the student who believes he’s stupid, so he doesn’t study for the test. Then, when he scores poorly, he can say he didn’t try his best. I’m curious what the feared consequence is if you posed nicely for a photo?

  5. Cheri
    Cheri says:

    I too don’t want to be seen. Just posting this comment is a huge step for me. I rarely post on my own Facebook page. I login occasionally and see what others are up to and I logout. I agree with Joan that this is at the core of “am I good enough?” I struggle often with that mentality. “Am I good enough” to run my own business? “Am I good enough” to be a good wife? “Am I good enough” to raise my children to be successful adults? I don’t know when this thought process began but I know I have been sabotaging my own success for years by listening to these thoughts. Thank you, Kerri for being so transparent. I am currently on a journey toward gaining control of my life and becoming the best Me possible. Your post has brought me hope along this journey.

    • Kerri
      Kerri says:

      Cheri, thanks so much for having the courage to participate in the discussion. The world needs to see you! Yup, as long as you believe that you’re not good enough, you’ll go through life proving yourself right. That’s the power of a belief. Give some thought to what feels so scary about failing? Where did you first learn that you weren’t good enough? Take an inventory of your life — think of times at home, school, with friends, etc. Where was that message delivered to you (often indirectly). Now, more importantly, how can you help that vulnerable part of you feel safe and loved and absolutely good enough?

    • Kerri
      Kerri says:

      HA! Great point, Michelle! Seems that little bugger of a belief is at it again! I’ve included some of the shots in the post now. (I do have my professional headshot on my About page.) 🙂

  6. Claire Rowland
    Claire Rowland says:

    Kerri, you’re beautiful and I agree with Joan that Lisa captured the real you. I am always hiding from the camera. I believe it is because people will just see how fat I am and not look for anything deeper. Since February I have lost 46 lbs. Everyone tells me I look great and I do feel better however I feel I look the same. I want to have a new photo for my profile but remain afraid to step out there. Quite the dichotomy.

    • Kerri
      Kerri says:

      Aw, thanks, Claire! And congratulations on your amazing weight loss! It’s interesting that you feel you look the same because when I read your comment, what I kept hearing you really saying is “I will see just how fat I am and not look for anything deeper.” My sense is there’s some projection going on there for you. I think projection gets a bad rap. I find it an incredibly useful tool to see what we really thing of ourselves. So I suggest the same to you as I’ve written above — how can you remind that sweet, young part of you that she is beautiful and worthy, no matter what her size. ♥

  7. Niamh
    Niamh says:

    Love the headshots. I am with you on the hiding, I have spent my whole trying not to be seen or heard, for many reasons it makes life easier but in some ways much more difficult. I caught myself at it at yoga this morning, I needed the loo and managed to leave the room so quietly (even though my mat was right at the back and the door is at the front) that I scared my yoga teacher on my return as she hadn’t realised I had left. It filters into all parts of my life, as my fear of being “seen” prevents me from standing up for myself and my needs and wants. Well don to you for taking the first steps, I too am trying but only baby steps at the moment.

    • Kerri
      Kerri says:

      Thanks for joining the conversation, Niamh! Baby steps are the best steps, so stick with it! You deserve to be seen and celebrated!

  8. Joanne
    Joanne says:

    Thank you for being so courageous to express your fears to so many people. I applaud you and want you to know I also avoid getting my picture taken (like the plague.) I don’t even like to look at pictures of myself that others have taken and when I see them, they don’t match the picture in my head of what I think I look like. I love taking pictures though, just not of me.
    I have also been avoiding getting a head shot done, but thinking now that I may get that done this summer. You have inspired me, and I thank you.
    Take care

    • Kerri
      Kerri says:

      Thanks for sharing, Joanne. I’m so glad my post resonated with you. On the other side of the photo shoot challenge, I am thrilled I did it. While it highlighted some things for me that are a struggle to work through, I’d rather be in the know! When you do get your head shot done, be sure to take extra good care of yourself before, during, and after.

  9. Erica Holthausen
    Erica Holthausen says:

    Kerri, thank you so much for sharing your experience and what you’ve learned about yourself. This post resonated with me on a much deeper level than I expected. I’ve always considered myself someone who has no problem speaking up and being seen and heard. But it’s not that easy. The truth is so much more complicated. I can share my opinions, give advice and support others on their journey, but when it comes to being truly vulnerable — to being truly and deeply seen, well, it’s terrifying. The good news is that over time, that scared little girl inside is getting stronger. She’s learning that she isn’t alone and that she doesn’t have to hide. She’s learning that there are a lot of kind and compassionate people who support her. And she’s finding that she can really connect with that same part within each of my friends. Gradually, she is becoming a more integrated part of me and we can grow together knowing that we’ll be okay. Thank you, again! And thank you for creating such a safe space where we can share our reactions!

    • Kerri
      Kerri says:

      Thanks for chiming in, Erica! Yes! I find that our knowledge, support, advice, etc, can be another quite effective mask we wear to stay hidden. By focusing on what we give, we can avoid focusing on what we need and who we are. I love that your little girl is getting stronger and stronger. She is not alone. All of our little girls (and boys) can have play dates! 😉

  10. Lori Esterly
    Lori Esterly says:

    It’s funny that you write about this now. I am a brand new business owner. I got started because of Right Brainers (RBBP). In the last 4 months I can not count the number of times I have hyperventilated. At every new step I had to consciously tell myself that I could do this, everything would work out right and everything is OK. Plus I had to practice my breathing, breathe in, breathe out. Needless to say I was terrified about starting my own business. I just opened my Etsy shop yesterday! I am so glad I forced myself to stick with it. It has done wonders for my self-confidence and I am so thankful for all the help and encouragement I have gotten from others on the way. oh, I don’t blame you for not wanting to have your picture taken I don’t like having my picture taken either. I too would rather be taking the pictures. 🙂

    • Kerri
      Kerri says:

      Thanks for sharing, Lori, and congratulations on your new Etsy shop! How fantastic that, despite the hyperventilations, you keep going. Step by step. That’s where the secret lies! I wish you MUCH success!

  11. Susan
    Susan says:

    Thanks for sharing this. I can completely relate. I like to be a behind the scenes person, too. But lately life has pushed me in the other direction, so I’m trying to step up to the plate and be grateful for the opportunity to grow. Not ever easy. On the subject of photos, after my mom died, I realized that all I wanted to do was see her and any photo would do. I thought maybe my kids some day would feel the same and wonder why there weren’t any pics of mom, so now I let people take photos of me… for them. Now videos—that’s another story!!

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