Friday, February 3, 2012

Self Doubt Can Suck It

In my first days of practicing yoga, I was consumed with self-doubt.  Everyone on the mat was better than me. Surely they were laughing at me, that annoyingly accomplished clique in the corner.  I would never stick my foot behind my head. I was shit.

I recognized the self-hatred silliness in it enough to persevere and pursue teaching, which of course brought up more self doubt.  Again and again I've been confronted with this girl who shadows my fabulous self.  You know her—she's the one who always gets it right; makes magic with the flip of her wand, flips her hair in slow motion and never, ever has anything stuck in her teeth.  In other words, my own mythical unicorn.  In reality, however, I stand (in my self doubting mind) before the world with matted hair, with my foot in my mouth (rather than elegantly behind my head), and probably on the floor because I've just fallen over.  I want to beat my shadow self senseless.

Yet, she never goes away.  I can't push her to the back of the closet, or excise her from my being anymore than I can excise my own shadow. And trust me.  I have tried.

Fast forward to today and I receive an email offering me a teaching opportunity which will expose me to a much broader audience.  Guess who wants to respond to the email?  You guess it—self doubt girl.  Why does she always show up at the worst times? My own personal Tom Riddle/Voldemort in a school of talented wizards.  Here I am, right where I started all those years ago.  Have I made no progress at all?  Well, I have, but not in the way I had originally hoped.  I figured that the more I lived my yoga, the less of the awkward self-loathing girl we'd see.  She'd vanish into vapor.  Apparently not so much.  Fabulous.

What actually happened over the past ten years, was that I learned (from John Friend and Douglas Brooks) that I can't (and shouldn't try) to get rid of my shadow self. It is as much a part of me as my highest self.  To shove part of myself away, because it's unattractive diminishes my power for growth.  A LOT.  Douglas Brooks teaches us that the brighter your light, the darker, denser and longer your shadow is.  It's attached to you.  Get it? It is you.

So what to do?  What to do?  The answer, which really works for me, is to welcome it in.  Offer my acceptance of the shadowy, dark and awkward parts of myself.  Radical.  Imagine if Tom Riddle had been welcomed into the fold? Self-acceptance has that much potential.  Those "shadows" are nothing other than me.  What I do with them is where the real magic occurs.  Remember how his mothers love enveloped and protected Harry when he challenged the great all powerful evil?  It's like that.  If I can't accept the darkness, then I also can't fully accept the light. Dorky girl and fabulous girl need to become BFFs.

This may the most challenging part of yoga for me. Self acceptance of those parts of myself that are not so lovely does NOT come easy.  I am lonely Tom Riddle consumed by darkness and I am Harry enveloped in the bright light of love.  I can't stand on either side of the fight because they're both me.   Self doubt (or whatever your own shadow call themselves) will always be there.  There will always be shadows next to light.  And the compassionate embrace of love and acceptance envelopes that darkness and actually allows you to shine brighter.  Good luck.  Don't forget your wand.  You're going to need it.

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