What brings you to yoga? Why do you show up on your mat?
What brings you to this conversation today? What’s important for you to be here?
These are questions that I use DAILY with myself, with my private coaching clients and with my students.
There are a lot of reasons I ask these questions. One such reason, though, is to see if there is any part of us is here because we are trying to “be better”.
I’m a personal development professional---I’ve made my life’s work helping people grow. So, I have NO beef with “being better”---but I DO have some thoughts around it based on what I experienced in my own journey on the mat and off of it. That’s what I want to talk about here.
Here’s what I USED to mean when I came to yoga, when I’d read a self-help book or when I hired a coach: I want to be better because I’m not good enough. I want to be better because I’m not as flexible, fit, or successful as so-and-so. I want to be better because I’m not happy.
When I believe these thoughts about myself, I’m insecure, jealous, competitive, driven and super DUPER self critical. I’m motivating myself by making myself feel WORSE.
It’s a fundamental misunderstanding about how human motivation and growth happens. I thought that if I made myself feel really really badly---if I reminded myself that I could try harder or do better---that I’d actually change.
Have you ever done that to yourself?
In my opinion, here’s WHY we do it: it kinda does work. For a little while. For a steep price.
It’s like running your vehicle on crappy fuel. It can get you a little further down the road---but it’s going to stop working eventually and might even damage your engine. The same is true when we use self criticsm and shame to motivate our growth. It might work---for a little bit. But the results are going to come at the price of your wellbeing and happiness. Not THAT cool of a tradeoff.
So, do I HATE the phrase to be better or grow? NO! Like I said---I’m ALL for women growing and expanding. But I’m also all for them loving life too. And in order for them to love life, you better believe they better be using a higher grade fuel than SHAME to get there. Want to know what that fuel is? It’s LOVE. Pure and simple.
Love = UNCONDITIONAL acceptance. I really want you to take that in. UNCONDITIONAL. Not, if you lose 5 more pounds. Not if you are a mom AND. Not if you stop snapping at your spouse or kids. Not if you make 5k MORE this year. UNCONDITIONAL. It’s a lot to take in, I know. But here’s why it works----you’ve got to remember who you really are. Your heart and essence. Do you KNOW that you know that you have the best intentions in life? That you are actually trying because you give a crap? If so, the rest easy----your heart is in the right place even if your execution is messy. You GET to be messy, because you are a human. So remember your heart—remember who you are.
Then, know where change and growth REALLY comes from: that higher grade fuel. If love is a hard word to sink your teeth into: try growing from JOY. Growing from curiosity. Growing because it just feels really great to grow. That is really when personal growth goes from “EXHAUSTING” right into “EFFORTLESS”. Not because growth IS always easy—but because you are doing it FROM a place of ease. Make sense? You are doing it from a place of knowing that you are JUST fine exactly where you are and who you are---any growth over and above that is bonus just because.
I’m all about making a physical practice of a spiritual “concept”---making it real, so that I can test out whether or not I agree or how it can work for me. I want to share with you today MY physical practice around “Growing from JOY” versus “shame”.
When I would go to yoga class, I would spend the first breath or two releasing the drive to “get better”. I’d tell myself that just for today, and just on my mat, I could just be me. If I didn’t ever get into splits or headstand, I’d really truly be just great.
I told myself that over and over again---anytime I’d practice.
Pretty soon, I found myself remembering this concept OFF of my mat. I’d remember that my heart was in the right place and that as long as I was showing up in my life---that was enough. I started to trust that I could just be myself in my life OFF of my mat and enjoy growth just because. It was at that moment that the magic could REALLY begin.
I’m not sure if this makes sense to you or meets you where you are today. I just wanted to share something from my heart to yours. I don’t even know if this will help you. I hope so---my hearts in the right place---but I can say without a doubt that I will be growing this way from now on. I can’t go back.
With love for you and your journey!