It was hot and dark. Sweat was pouring down my arms, my face, stinging my eyes. I was lightheaded and unsteady, unable to catch my balance as I contorted my body from pose to pose. I narrowly averted falling onto my neighbor’s mat. My body was screaming for rest, but I kept pushing. Pushing, striving, forcing.
Then the teacher’s voice rang out through the fog in my head, “How you show up on your mat is how you show up in your life. Can you notice that?”
“Why yes, yes I can,” I smiled to myself.
Here I was again. Pushing. Striving. Forcing. Beyond what feels good. Beyond what's required. Beyond what's safe.
And why? Because of some unconscious old story that drives me to check all the boxes, push through the pain, do it all, get it exactly right.
Some people might think that’s a good thing. And why not? Our culture glorifies it.
For me, taking the elimination diet I did to heal my acne to the extreme of exactly right meant I was 25lbs underweight and my acne was as stubborn as ever from all the stress.
Trying to do it exactly right and force things in my business meant I second guessed my instincts, consumed insane amounts of outside advice, and held myself back from success while desperately attempting to check all the thousands of boxes the business gurus said I must.
While we may make gains under extreme self-pressure, it often comes at the price of burning ourselves out. And more often than not, instead of progress we get overwhelm, lack of motivation and a stubborn, depressing refrain in our brains telling us how we are total losers who will never accomplish anything.
And whether we are stymied by overwhelm or burnt out, the end result tends to be the same. We find ourselves seeking something to numb the pain - food, TV, alcohol, the Internet, the phone. Something that will distract us from the ache of feeling like we aren't enough. We aren't thin enough, successful enough, married enough.
The old way isn’t working. And it sucks. It makes us feel terrible.
I have been exploring a new way to approach my life. One that is more gentle, more joyful, and more about letting my true self and true desires run the show. It’s about turning on, physically and mentally, rather than numbing out. It’s waaaaay more fun, and guess what, the world didn’t fall apart when I stopped forcing. On the contrary, things actually got easier.
And EXCITING NEWS I am creating a podcast - COMING SOON - to continue exploring and share with you what it actually looks like to live life differently. To stop beating ourselves up and numbing out and instead cultivate our desires, sex drive (gasp!), energy, and joy.
Beaming after recording my first episode... I am SHOUTY CAPITALS EXCITED to share it with you in a few weeks!
Meanwhile, I’ll leave you with this. How you show up on your mat (or at work, or with your kids, or with food, etc), is how you show up in life. Can you notice what that looks like for you? Are you forcing?
And if you aren't showing up at all right now, is it because you’ve shut yourself down from painfully beating yourself up?
Whatever you discover, be gentle with yourself. You are not broken. You simply are where you are right now, and that’s ok.