Have you ever been on a path in life without really knowing why? I met Kristie Dean on the bikini competition circuit about 10 years ago. She shared in our conversation on the Fit Girl Magic podcast that she came to doing bikini competitions at a low point in her life, and it was her fitness journey that helped grow her confidence. She explained how she gained control of her life and how she began to think of how that translates to other areas of her life including her relationships. It was her quest for a “physical journey that led to a more emotional journey” for her.
Kristie is a professional photographer who shares raw stories of regular women on social media in The Soul Project. Through this project she has found an alignment of all her passions and her purpose in a way that provides her with self care and empowers women everywhere. One of the big topics that she covers is comparison.
It’s something we all struggle with at different points in our lives whether it’s in our health and fitness, motherhood, relationships and/or our careers. Kristie says there are many times she’s had the thought after looking at another photographer’s works, “they” must be doing better than me.
We’ve all done it. Looked at an Instagram or Facebook post and said “man, she’s got it going on and I’m sitting here with NOTHING! In this world of curated perfection on social media its really easy to get down on yourself.
Because of her own feelings, she wanted to create something that would ease those feelings. Not only for herself but for other women as well. “Reading about someone who struggled with something, the first thing that happens is, you create a little more compassion for that person.” You begin to think to yourself “me too” and then we allow ourselves a little more grace in our own life.
You see that there is someone else out there that is just a fragile as you are. Makes you feel like everything is okay, we all have bumps and bruises. Seeing other women having the same struggles as you do opens the door to real connection. In this world of social media one of things that are really missing is “social” media.
Compassion is just one of the benefits of her project though. Once you start feeling compassion it’s pretty easy to start to opening the door to self-love. Seeing others be vulnerable we begin to stop thinking that everyone else has it together at we’re the ONLY hot mess on the planet.
“Only when we’re showing up with some self love, can we make real connections with ourselves. Otherwise, you’re showing up as who _____ wants you to be and who ___ thinks _____ wants. With al little self-love with have the confidence to show up as ourselves, this new found courage helps others see you for who you are,” Kristie explains.
Many of us have compassion for our friends. You have compassion for your kids, your family, but what about compassion for ourselves. Come admit it, we all get in line first to beat the shit out of ourselves. Through the Soul Project, Kristie helps women realize that their trauma is their trauma. Everyone has a story. But sometimes we don’t even realize what the stories are that we’re telling ourselves until we write it down and think about why they are what they are. This is the beginning of offering yourself compassion — understanding your own story.
What makes you happy? What are the ingredients to a healthy relationship to you? What is success? What is happiness? Whatever your answers are, “you’re not alone. 100% I have found whatever your struggle or insecurity is, there is someone out there with the same thing. So just say it out loud, let it go, no one really gives a shit that much. And that is like liberating.”
“Working on your fitness is an ongoing thing and it’s socially acceptable to do it publicly,” Kristie goes on to say. But emotional health maintenance is not yet as socially acceptable, and women tend to hide their issues thinking that if they ignore it long enough it will go away. (Hint: It won’t!)
So, the Soul Project is about making it socially acceptable to work on our emotional wellness as a preventative measure by sharing stories of similar women, helping to create a bridge of connection. Kristie says, “I’m just trying to provide a platform for the regular woman to come and start that healing process.” Brene Brown said, “Shame dies when stories are told in safe places.” In essence, that is The Soul Project.
When you start to face your own insecurities and live life through a lens of compassion and self-love, you begin to see that some of the problems you have with people are not really about the other person at all. Sometimes, it’s a matter of your own insecurities or some part of yourself that you haven’t owned that being triggered by the personality of the other person. Knowing this you can begin to release your judgment of them and understand that they probably aren’t judging you either. Sometimes, it’s not about you; “we need to step back a little bit and give each other space to be ourselves,” Kristie advises.
In all of this remember that by offering compassion to others and love to yourself, you open yourself to real connections without the judgment. Yes, you may see someone’s “perfect life” on social media but remember that’s literally a highlight reel. As Kristie, said in our conversation, “It’s not everyone’s full picture; there was always stuff behind it. We just immediately assume that the highlights are all stitched together and that like that person’s, [life] must be perfect. Right?” It’s natural for us to want to share the good things and that’s okay. But we need more conversation with an understand that there’s more behind the scenes than what you see on someone’s social media feed. The Soul Project is the beginning of that conversation.
If you want to learn more about The Soul Project, grab a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and head over to The Fit Girl Magic Podcast and listen in on my conversation with Kristie Dean.