I’m sure you’ve heard the typical advice when it comes to public speaking — if you’re nervous you’re suppose to look at everyone as if they’re in their underwear. Does it really work? Well, I wouldn’t know because talking to large and small crowds is something I enjoy, so I’m not the best litmus test. Regardless, the psychology behind that tactic is to put you at ease, right? It’s intended to calm down your nerves, to put everyone on the same level and provide you with a moment where you can stop thinking about saying everything perfect and simply allow it to flow from your interior life.
It’s intended to remove all the externals that everyone puts on, whether it’s the makeup, the business suite or the stoic face. As soon as you see everyone in the room in their underwear, the scene becomes comical, really basic and somewhat embarrassing. It’s much easier to be vulnerable when all those around you are in state of vulnerability. That’s how it works.
I think using this technique outside the lines of public speaking and applying it to everyday life can be very beneficial in how you interact with your neighbor, your vocational partners and “strangers.” Each and every one of us puts on some level of a mask or protective gear to make sure we stay safe. All of this is understandable, but that doesn’t mean we wouldn’t benefit by taking a moment or two and losing all our clothing.
There I said it. Let’s drop our drawers, remove our hair weaves and muscle shirts. When you step out onto the stage of your life today, I dare you to see every human you interact with in their underwear. Whether it be the toll clerk, your boss or “that” person that always rubs you wrong way, do it. See through the age, the dysfunctions, the wrongs, the excessive personality, the passive, the past, the projected future and all other externals… just see him.
Him. In his underwear. Her. In her underwear.
No pretense. Just his humanity. The feeble, the frightened, the needy, the vulnerable human. Because every single one of us on planet earth are each of these things. We hate it, we cover it and we try really, really hard to dress it up. But underneath it all, we’re all just a bunch of little kids, running around in our big boy pants attempting to impress and find value in one another.
Amazing things happen when all you see is the underwear. Suddenly, you’re not trying so hard. Intimidation subsides and you have a heart-full of compassion and desire to connect. The games slowly come to end and the recognition that all of us are way more alike then we are different. The need to explain, to reason and to prove seems like the last resort instead of the first choice. A deep, intimate flow between you and the other takes on a life of it’s own and suddenly you feel seen, heard and connected. And that is what we all want.
The key is, you have to be the first one to reveal yourself in your undies. Think about when you board a plane and sit down next the person you’re going to be sharing air, space and energy with for the next 2.5 hours. How does it initially feel? You may try really hard to make believe that they’re not really there… that the tiny armrest separates you from their presence.
Humans are funny creatures. We want more than anything to be connected, to feel apart of the greater and acknowledged, yet we’ve worked so hard at maintaining an intense sense of separation and “stranger danger.”
The moment you say, “hi,” to your plane companion, it’s as if the other person suddenly appears. They let down the first layer of walls and the illusion of pretend. If conversation ensues, both of you share a friendly energy exchange and you’ve taken a step closer to reality. You’ll talk about things that you have in common, things that you like, stuff you’ve experienced and before you know it, you’re both without all the layers.
Today, that’s your assignment. From the very first human interaction to you close your eyes on this day, see every person in their underwear because each person is on the most basic level a bit scared, fearful and yearning for a moment of connection.