It came to my awareness again this weekend how much of a hard time we can give ourselves.
One of my friends thinks she is over weight and she gives herself a hard time about it constantly. She also likes to drink wine and she gives herself a hard time about that too. So that actually she constantly feels that she is not good enough, and so her self-esteem lowers, her spirits sink and she is full to the brim with self loathing.
I give myself a hard time sometimes too. I like to drink some sparkling wine but when I do so, even though I enjoy the moment, I am then full of guilt for lowering my vibration and dehydrating my body and I give myself a hard time about it. It is ridiculous really - all the negativity is of my own making, not in the drinking alcohol per se, but more so the berating I give myself for doing so.
Who needs enemies when we have ourselves!
It intrigues me how much this self-loathing and lack of self-esteem shows up in our yoga practice; how we can be so hard on ourselves and think our practice is not good enough. I see it on students' faces when they are practicing, the grimacing, the sadness, the frustration, the self-loathing struggling. It is all there. So too the smiles and the laughing (at oneself) that makes it all so much better when we learn to let it go.
There are most definitely triggers. Aspects of the practice, the poses then, or the manner in which a pose is held, that trigger a moment of self-loathing and dissatisfaction so that sometimes I feel the energy change within a room, I can almost feel the anger directed at me, the discomfort, the edginess that comes from sitting quite literally being on the edge. On the edge of a knife...our knife...stabbing our own heart one time, two times, ten times a day.
My trigger is core work. It is not that my core is weak, or that I mind doing the core stuff, more so that it triggers some really deep old memory from when I was 17 years old that for some silly reason (that I still do not know even to this day) my tummy was not right. Not right? What was I thinking!
But there it was. 17 years old and my tummy needed to be smaller for me to feel ok about myself. And with that thank you very much, 15 years of a rather tedious eating disorder. Sigh. So even now, after all these years of healing and yoga and mindfulness and acceptance (yes, hoorah, we get there) acceptance that my tummy is marvellous just as it is (and I say this from my heart, not my ego), it enabled me to bear a son after all, I still have an uncomfortable moment every so often on my mat when I suddenly get faced with my old demon voice that says, "yikes there is your tummy and it is certainly not good enough".
And I have learned (most of the time, but I am certainly still a work in progress, nothing perfect about me or my life) I catch myself and this rather unhelpful and unkind internal dialogue and I breathe and I remind myself that that was something old popping up and moving on..."this too shall pass"...and it does and we move on to the next thing...does my bum look big in this? No, I'm joking. Seriously I am joking. Your bum looks just amazing as it is!
I am reminded of this fabulous quote I read recently, that when this particular lady realised that none of us are getting out of here alive, she decided then and there that she would make sure that she would only drink quality wine for the rest of her life. I like that. She is right. None of us are getting out of here alive. NONE OF US ARE GETTING OUT OF HERE ALIVE. So why waste precious time and energy being unkind to ourselves, loathing ourselves, berating ourselves and believing that we are not good enough.
We are good enough. We are miracles. The human body is a miracle. I mean seriously, look what it enables us to do and feel and be. We really need to learn to love ourselves a little bit more, accept ourselves as we are and embrace our uniqueness and individuality and humaneness. What a strange world it would be if all the flowers looked the same. It is the same with humans, how boring would it be if we all looked like Gwyneth Paltrow (no hard feelings Gwyneth!).
We just need to learn to catch ourselves when we start being unkind to ourselves, to listen out for that inner voice when it starts berating us and judging us and calling us to task. And we then need to start being disciplined and committed to overriding that voice and telling it to bog off and leave us alone...and smiling and hugging ourselves inside instead and reminding ourselves that "I am good enough just as I am thank you very much".
I have a lovely extract to share with you from Jon Kabat-Zinn's book, "Wherever You Go, There You Are", which really hammers it all home:
"You may have noticed that you are no always the centre of love and kindness, even towards yourself. In fact, in our society, one might speak of an epidemic of low self-esteem. In conversations with the Dalai Lama during a meeting in Dharamsala in 1990, he did a double take when a Western psychologist spoke of low self-esteem. The phrase had to be translated several times for him into Tibetan, although his English is quite good. He just couldn't;t grasp the notion of low self-esteem, and when he finally understood what was being said, he was visibly saddened o hear that so many people in America carry deep feelings of self-loathing and inadequacy.
Such feelings are virtually unheard of among Tibetans. They have all the severe problems of refugees rom oppression living in the Third World, but low self-esteem is not one of them. But who knows what will happen to future generations as they come into contact with what we ironically call the "developed world". Maybe we are overdeveloped outwardly and underdeveloped inwardly. Perhaps it is we who, for all our wealth, are living in poverty."
So let's embrace us as we are warts and all. And let's see how this all shows up in our practice so that we can start quietening the internal negative dialogue and learning to be kind and compassionate to ourselves as we are to the rest of the world.
Happy tummies everyone!