If you had nothing to lose, what would you be willing to do? To say? If there were no limits, no voices telling you that you can’t? I have written down several times what I would do if there were no limits and nothing to lose but I can’t seem to publish it. I don’t want to say what I wish for the most because I know, in some ways, it is absurd. If these things happened, I would still be me. I would still find things to worry about and doubt about myself. I would still pass these insecurities and doubts onto my children. CAN I STOP THAT FROM HAPPENING? When I tell my kids something different that I believe about them and then say bad things about myself do they believe the good things about them?
I have heard that we are our own worst critics. Yes. That is true. Or that we should learn to talk to ourselves the way we talk to a good friend — with that kind of patience, empathy, understanding and compassion. I am not so good that.
I also think we learn these patterns and practices from somewhere. We can lay blame for that or we can seek understanding about it. Blame doesn’t get me very far. I have tried it for a long time. I know.
Even this morning, as I went to take my son and his friends to school I noticed he left his key inside on the table. I brought it out to him and said, in a very judgey voice, “Max, you left your key…” My mother was in the driveway having stopped by for a few minutes and said it was okay that he did that and that he likes fresh air. I went to the car and tried to open it realizing that I, too, left my keys in the house.
Doing the walk of shame, I went into the house with my head down and noticed my keys were hidden under a little bag with a t-shirt in it that my mother had dropped off for me. I went outside and told her it was her fault because I couldn’t see my keys. Of course, this is a moment of perfection for my son. I got it back good and we laughed about it — all of us.
Still, I think many of us spend the better part of our lives blaming someone for where we are and where we aren’t, how we think and talk to ourselves, and all the things that could be better in our lives than they are right now.
If it isn’t a person I blame, it is something about myself. If I ever feel I haven’t succeeded it will always come back to my body. My body is to blame. Recently I decided I wasn’t the right “style” for a position I had considered applying for. The scene from The Way We Were popped into my head when Barbra Streisand tells Robert Redford that she knows she “isn’t the right style” for him. I decided I wasn’t the right “style” for that position. Style for me meant everything from how I look, to what I wear and that for the life of me, I can’t stand wearing suits. They just don’t feel right on me. I joke about this — my body image and often bring attention to my weight and my struggles with it when I am feeling insecure in any way. It is my default and it makes people laugh. Why do I do that? Is it the idea that if we say it, others won’t?
Years ago, a friend of mine started training as a yoga teacher and needed to have hours to get his certificate. We started a group in the neighbourhood and it was something I really looked forward to. I saw my progress week to week and we all started in the same place pretty much. As the weeks went by I saw my friends surpass me. They were more flexible. They were stronger. I was certain they looked better doing it. I was spiraling in a cess pool of insecurity and doubt. One of the sessions we did a shoulder stand. I was nursing my son at the time and my chest, always having been on the large side, had grown to ginormous. I was on my back with my legs up in the air supporting my lower back with my hands (see diagram above) and my breast literally fell in my face. I said, “I can’t breathe. My breasts are suffocating me!” Everyone laughed. I didn’t blame them. I often (and still do) make self deprecating jokes about myself and I invite that response but this time…I couldn’t hold in the true pain of that moment. This time, the tears rolled down the side of my face just like my breasts were doing.
The instructor, now a dear friend, came over to me to see if I was okay. He had to continue the class. The other girls in the class all checked if I was okay. One of the girls drove me home which was just around the block but wanted to be sure I was okay. The instructor drove past my house and came to talk to me. He told me how it was good to cry in yoga and that I was connecting to the practice but as he got to know me better he would know that I wasn’t doing anything of the sort. I was comparing myself. Judging myself. Ashamed of myself. Hating myself.
The next time he saw me he gave me a copy of The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. This was a pivotal moment for me and learning I needed to do and quite frankly, still need to do. I need to remind myself, when I feel as though I am not achieving what I aimed to accomplish that I am impeccable with my words to myself and others. I have to understand that what others do and say is about themselves and not me. I must not make assumptions and ask the questions that I need to ask in service of clear communication and compassion for others and myself. Finally, I have to do my best and be forgiving when my best right now isn’t the best I am able to do at other times.
I am tired of being afraid.
I am tired of self deprecation.
I am tired of self doubt.
I am tired of blame.
I still don’t know how to get past it. Do we ever?