A few weeks ago, for the first time in ages, I was home alone (with the dog)…. it was an interesting couple of days! I’d just taught my first workshop in about 9 months, on a subject that is very dear to my heart — therapeutic back bending…
I’ve suffered from back pain including disc injuries and have healed myself using Forrest Yoga. I’m always so excited to share what I’ve learned and help others to get out of pain. I was nervous and worried that my workshop wasn’t going to run ‘perfectly’ — afraid that people wouldn’t enjoy it, afraid that people wouldn’t feel the benefits…. My demons certainly came out to play with me.
The downward spiral
“So how did it go?”, is maybe what you’re thinking. That was my first question to myself as I drove home…First though, let me fast forward a few hours. I was missing Dom (my husband), I felt down, lonely and emotionally beaten-up. I had a little cry and eventually I fell asleep.
I didn’t sleep well (never do the first night Dom and I are apart) and to be honest, I was feeling pretty sorry for myself. When I woke up, I plugged my brain straight into computer mode, doing website amends and this and that. It was sunny outside, what the hell was I doing indoors?!
Luckily for me, the phone rang. I took the call in the garden, in the sun and that felt so good on my skin. It was a dear friend and fellow Forrest Yoga teacher. Describing my workshop out loud to her was the first time I’d actually taken the opportunity to soak up the experience from all its perspectives. Until then, all I’d done (from the moment I’d stepped into the car to drive home) was critique the things that didn’t go ‘perfectly’. You know, the: “Oh no, I should’ve done this; damn, I should’ve done that; balls — I didn’t do that…” etc, etc. To coin a term from my teacher Ana Forrest — it was ‘self-mutilation’. No wonder I’d felt so crap that night!
Climbing back up!
What I had forgotten about the workshop was that I got instant positive feedback from about 50% of the people in that room before they left. One guy said that he had been in so much pain when he got there, but as he left he told me he felt fabulous.
Saying those things out loud felt good. In fact, it felt awesome — the way sharing the things that you’re passionate about does. Those feelings are part of what you get to enjoy for yourself as a teacher. I’d well and truly short-changed myself!
If one person had walked out of my workshop feeling less pain, or with even one nugget of information that could help them, I was doing good. The fact that I’d positively impacted more people is a wonderful achievement. I need to learn to be proud of myself.
I’m so done with that.
This bout of self-mutilation, was relatively short-lived compared to how I used to be. Sometimes the fear of not doing a job ‘perfectly’ or living up to expectations (usually my own rigid ones) would stick around for days. It would manifest as a tight sicky churning feeling in my stomach.
My day home alone and my chat on the phone gave me a chance to reflect. I had caught myself being nasty — to myself. I had caught myself not appreciating what I do. I know plenty of people that do this exact same thing. The irony is, they’re all high-achievers and incredible, talented, gorgeous individuals. The truth is this: Our energy is way better spent building an exciting life or developing our dreams than wishing we were ‘more’ or ‘perfect’!
Here are some things that I’m doing to stop the internal Soap Operas. If you give yourself a hard time, have a go:
- Taking time to actually acknowledge and (dare I say it) enjoy my achievements. That means congratulating myself BEFORE moving onto the next project. It’s essential for me to give myself that time. If I don’t, I get sad, depleted and a bit resentful.
- Being more conscious about when I’m doing self-mutilating behaviour. Breathing deeply helps to catch it!
- Not beating myself up if I’ve been horrible to myself. That’s just a double beating! Instead, I’ve been congratulating (yes, congratulating!) myself for catching any old unproductive chit-chat.
- Constructive critisism….but only AFTER I’ve soaked up the wins from my class, workshops, projects, day…. or whatever.
Check out the ‘Formula For Change’ in Ana Forrest’s book Fierce Medicine for more info on all of this juicy stuff.
A couple of weeks later, I taught the same workshop to a different group of people. My attitude towards my achievements and efforts was totally different. Yes, there are definitely areas to build on and grow, but as I drove home, I wasn’t berating myself. I was enjoying the feeling of helping others and loving what I do for a living. It was tipping it down with rain and as I pulled off the motorway, there was a rainbow. It brought a smile to my face and summed up my day. I was doing my small part in helping the Forrest Yoga community to Mend (Heal) the Hoop of the People. I think that’s something to be proud of…
…Now it’s your turn 🙂