By Guest Blogger Erin McCole Cupp
Maybe you, like me, have heard that, in order to increase your reach on social media, you need to incorporate video into your platform. Maybe, like me, your initial thoughts on the subject were less than enthusiastic.
“Go on YouTube? I could never do that”
“Ugh. I hate to look at myself on camera.”
“Be on video? No way! The camera adds ten pounds.”
“Nobody wants to see a video of me. I’m nothing to look at!”
I hear these things all the time—especially from women, but men aren’t immune to such balking. And in spite of having a monthly video series, I still say them to myself… usually while I’m watching a playback of a Sabbath Rest Book Talk to make sure there’s nothing that needs to be fixed in the feed. I’m watching, and trust me, I’m cringing.
But I don’t cringe for long anymore. It took a long time (and maybe a series of spiritual miracles) to see value in myself on camera, and I’d be lying if I said I don’t have to fight the negative self-talk, but there are ways to hear the good over the bad about seeing oneself on the screen. I’ll be giving a talk at the Catholic Writers Conference Live this month called “HowTube: The Whys, Hows, and Be-Not-Afraids of Video in Social Media.” They Whys and Hows are beyond the scope of this post (so go to CWCL if you can or visit my Marketing-Related Pinterest board). Think of this as a pep talk for those of you who really want to add that all-important video plank to your social media platform but can only think of reasons why you simply can’t.
A Sort of Approach Anxiety
If you are frozen at the very thought of putting your face and voice out there on teh intarwebz for the world to see, you’re not alone. This article over at Psychology Today describes approach anxiety as (and here’s where the “sort of” comes in), “the fear of approaching and interacting with a stranger you find attractive.”
“Whoa, there, Nellie!” you protest. “These are complete strangers we’re talking about. How could I possibly be attracted to them?”
You are, sort of. You really want these strangers to follow your blog or buy your books or subscribe to your newsletter or something, right? You are interested in forming some sort of relationship with them, are you not, even if it’s a merely commercial one? But you’re afraid of rejection, just like that guy sidling up to the girl at the bar who’s working up the courage to ask, “Is your name Google? Because you’re the answer to everything I’m searching for!”
In case it needs saying, if you have clinical anxiety, please work with a professional trained to give you the tools you need to live successfully with anxiety. If you just have your garden variety fear of being judged, however, there’s an easy, low-cost thing you can do to get over it, and that is… get over it.
Use your well-formed conscience to determine between fear of human judgment and fear of divine judgment, and then do the scary thing even if it scares you. The more you repeat a (morally good or neutral) frightening action, the less fear it can hold over you.
Invalidate the Invalidation
But is that even possible, when our fear is about having our bodies judged? Most of us, when we look in the mirror, don’t have much nice to say to our reflections. Of late, there have been some powerful videos, like this one, highlighting this reality: our tendency towards negative self-talk, especially regarding our bodies.
One video in particular was instrumental in my changing my approach to my own body image self-talk. In this video produced by The Scene, two women were asked to write down all the negative things they think about their bodies. Then they had to say out loud to each other they things they tell themselves about their bodies.
It asks the question, “Why do we say things to ourselves that we wouldn’t ever say to (or think about) our best friends? Be a best friend to yourself.”
Here’s the thing: some of us grew up hearing from the very people who were supposed to be our best friends the very self-defeating kind of body criticism that these women would never imagine saying to each other. I grew up surrounded by laughter, which sounds like a nice thing. The problem was that the laughter was always at other people: people who weighed too much, ate too much, walked differently, spoke differently, did anything at all out of the ordinary.
For many of us, the negative committee inside our heads isn’t imagination but memory. Why would we put ourselves out there to dredge that up and have to hear it again, this time in a combox?
How did the negative committee of my memory find these people to criticize, though? With very few exceptions, they only ever criticized anyone who stepped out to do something brave. That goes for the lady who had the courage to sing in Mass, the overweight woman who didn’t give a fig about what you thought of her and went jogging in public anyway, the big-nosed contestant on the game show gunning for the million dollar prize and that bar of Toblerone, the high school girl whose acne showed in the picture from the trip she self-financed to Paris. I recently realized that all of these negative voices come from people who never did a single thing to distinguish themselves. In other words, they never took a single risk, or if they did, they blamed others for their lack of apparent success.
Our real-life negative committee stays negative so they can justify their own sloth. They laugh at others because they are imprisoned by their own fear of being laughed at.
The only person keeping you in their prison is you.
The Body as True, Beautiful and Good
Way back in 1980, St. John Paul II said, “The body, and it alone, is capable of making visible what is invisible, the spiritual and the divine.” Yes, we all have a fallen nature, and yes, sometimes that manifests itself in visible gluttony, A. K. A. however many extra pounds. Jesus, however, has a record of empowering His people to serve Him well before they’re perfected. In fact, it is in serving Christ as we are that we make tangible that which is spiritual.
Pray the Litany of Humility if you need to (and, honey, we all need to). Put your negative committee’s harshness into perspective. And if you’re still afraid of being judged, approach your fears rather than avoiding them, then offer up your terror for the salvation of those people who sinned against your humanity by telling you it wasn’t worth looking at.
Then go and make visible the divine—even out there on teh intarwebz.
PSA: In conjunction with the launch of Catholic Reads and in celebration of the Catholic Writers Conference Live, all three of the eBooks in The Memoirs of Jane E, Friendless Orphan, will be only 99 cents through July 21, 2017.
- Unclaimed (Book 1) (Click here for non-Kindle versions of Unclaimed)
- Nameless (Book 2) (Click here for non-Kindle versions of Nameless)
- Vanished (Book 3) (Click here for non-Kindle versions of Vanished)
Erin McCole Cupp is a wife, mother and lay Dominican who lives with her family of vertebrates in the middle of Nowhere, Pennsylvania. She is co-host of the monthly Sabbath Rest Book Talk video series. Learn more about Erin, her videos and her books at her website.
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