Today, as I was teaching yoga at the AMAZING Glow Yoga I received the greatest compliment!
As I was assisting someone in Triangle, she looked up at me and said “I don’t know where to put my hand. Tell me. After all, you’re the expert”. I’ll be honest-for a minute my ego felt great. Suddenly, I was not just a somewhat new teacher who frantically reads “Yoga Journal” before class for ideas-I was an expert.
And, it got me thinking. I tend to run in some interesting circles (to say the least) and I’m finding many, many people claim to be experts. And, at first, I really believed these people-I mean, they had the right clothes, the right attitude, the right lingo.
Until, suddenly, I realized there was no check and balance on these individuals, no proof of their expertise.
And, my dear friend Miles made the simple point “Anyone who says they are an expert-probably is not- especially if they are going around telling you all about it”. Good point!
And, I wonder if we are all putting up this image of ourselves as a protection to our fragile egos-this elevated barrier between ourselves and the outside world. Freud calls this the ego ideal, and he suggests the love of this ideal becomes so powerful, that it is stronger even than desire for sexual satisfaction. He explains the devotion to the ego ideal is what leads to a narcissistic culture and says “In the blindness of love remorselessness is carried to the pitch of crime.”
He explains that in many people (men, in particular) the idea of seeking a power figure or “superstar” is so strong, the narcissistic currents of identification can even sweep people into dangerous social movements. (8 years of George W anyone??) People WANT to have someone to follow-a grand figure to lessen our sense of loss and abandonment that we all have as the result of realizing that NO ONE is a God and we’re all just figuring this out the best we can. It makes us feel safe: be it in the hospital waiting room, in the desert, underneath someone-to think they are qualified to handle whatever may happen.
As a person who has spent almost 10 years selling to medical professionals, I’ve seen this firsthand. Many physicians will proclaim themselves to be experts on a drug (one even had a custom license plate reading Viagra-for real) or treatment or even a surgical procedure. Cardiovascular surgeons are known to have this “God complex” and I’ve witnessed it first hand. And, as a result, anytime a physician tells a member of my family they are experts-I suggest a 2nd opinion because I know this guy is too arrogant to question himself.
And, in the Burner and play scene, I think we all know that one girl or that one guy who has the right clothes and date and walks with a swagger that convinces you to put your trust in them. And, oftentimes, that is the case. There are experienced, talented people in many ways who have worked hard. However, few real ones identify as experts.
It’s the others, the ones who are quick to take on a title, making sure everyone knows who they are. Endless Facebook posts and tags in pictures showing you just how cool they are and how cool their scene (the one they are posting updates from ) is.
And, soon, they start to believe their own hype. In academics it’s called academic elitism when experts become convinced only their opinion is useful-often extending to items beyond their own expertise.
I’ve observed this: at work with Drs in scrubs, in yoga studios with the dreadlocked teacher putting students through too-tough poses, in scenes where a person’s physical well-being is compromised-all at the hands of these “specialists” who look the part.
Luckily, in the circles in run in ,there are real experts: amazing fire spinners who’ve done it for 10 years but still attend workshops, physicians who go above and beyond to learn more holistic options (Shout out to Dr Dan!), bloggers (not me) who have worked hard as journalists for years on a low salary to truly learn an art that is to be respected: Kristin Luna
And, I consider myself lucky to learn from, be in a community with, and in a city of truly able people!
As for my yoga student, I explained that while I’m not an expert yoga teacher-I do promise to put in my time and effort to be the best I can but that she needs to be her own teacher in many ways. And, she can be her OWN expert : “someone widely recognized as a reliable source of technique or skill and who’s faculty for judging rightly is acknowledged by their peers.”
And, that’s cooler than any costume, any license plate, any panel discussion or blog post-because it’s real consciousness and connection-regardless of the outfit you’re wearing!