Great_white_sharkJaws, remember the film from 1975  where the shark’s presence is mostly suggested by employing an ominous  soundtrack that signals the shark’s impending appearance and the possibility of death.

Well many people say that they are more afraid of public speaking than dying.  Being visible on stage is so scary that it fills people with dread. I think what they are really afraid of is being ridiculed, rejected, disliked, humiliated, booed…or having their creations treated in this way.

Let me tell you a story…

A few weeks ago sitting on the ground in the park, I noticed that the right side of my jaw was tense and felt locked. I have what I call a ‘spontaneous body wisdom’ jaw routine that my body initiates to relieve this tension.

It involves simply taking my attention to my jaw, focusing my awareness there and then just waiting for my body to respond.

The response always comes and involves contorted facial movements – with the upper and lower jaws being circled, stretched, wrung out – that can be quite challenging to maintain.

I normally initiate these upper and lower jaws exercise in the privacy of my home or car. On this particular day, I decided to do them where I was in the park and to hell with the possibility that people might think that I was somewhat crazy.

Being visible can generate paralysing fear and I do have some of this fear regarding making videos – Facebook Live for instance.

Anyway, training my attention on my jaws, I waited for the spontaneous jaw stretches to start. I just allowed what ever stretches came to take place and flow naturally trusting that my body knows best what needs to happen to alleviate the jaw tension.

As my face was stretching in weird and wonderfully releasing ways, I decided I needed to make a move and walk home. And I would keep doing the jaw exercise as I walked along the street.

This created quite interesting responses. I noticed a lady almost walk into the bushes to avoid me and making eye contact with me. Very interesting (and amusing) I decided.

I needed to pop into the supermarket and decided to continue with this experiment of not bothering about what people might say/think to build more resilience. I got strange looks and that was okay. I survived and came to no harm.

My confidence was growing, so I decided to try it on a packed underground train. I would close my eyes and initiate the process, then open them unexpectedly. The response around me was amusing. As I opened my eyes, people were looking trying to figure out what was happening. When eyes opened suddenly, gazes were diverted quickly and everyone avoided eye contact with me.

This was very exhilarating and reassuring because there was no humiliation, ridicule or overt dislike. I surmise that people were more fearful of me being not ‘normal’ and the potential of coming to harm themselves.

This experiment was mildly outrageous and out of my comfort zone at the time. Repetition is really important for developing skills and expertise and I found that each time I practised the spontaneous face stretches, the more confident and curious I became to try it in other public arenas. By coming out of my comfort zone and doing something silly but functional and effective, I was growing and empowering myself.

What can you do today that’s outside of your comfort zone and will be self-empowering?

The video of the jaw exercises is on my Exotic Authenticity  Facebook page. Please Like my Facebook page while you are there. Click here

Jaws - The Exercise