For most of my life I’ve been obsessed with approval and positive feedback. Some call that narcissism. Others call it a lack of confidence or underdeveloped self-trust. Perhaps it’s that I’m too dependent on the external. Or maybe it comes from some past life or childhood experience that I haven’t yet redesigned or unraveled.
My reaction to negative feedback or criticism sends me into a downward spiral that consumes my every thought for days on end. Everything I do, I keep coming back to this idea that I’m not good enough or I’ve messed up and now people think I’m bad. (Disproportionate responses, FTW.)
So, naturally, I’m constantly looking for teachers, mentors and healers to help me re-program this way of thinking. Sometimes I’m overwhelmed with inspiration and wisdom and other times I feel like I’m fumbling around in a dark room that I should know how to navigate by now.
I keep hearing, “Trust your gut.” “You are your own teacher.” “Only you know what you need.” “No one can fix this for you.”
Up until recently, I struggled massively with make this a reality. Then, I found a way to light a fiercely burning torch in this dark room. It’s a three-part daily practice:
• Meditate. Every. Single. Day. Close your eyes and watch. Then write about it afterwards. Freely. Forget about your spelling or grammar or if you sound profound. Just get it out there. There’s powerful magic in there. Trust me.
• Upend your obsession with happiness. Our society is unnaturally fixated on bliss and happiness and never-ending joy. If we, as teachers, never had bad days, we’d be shit teachers. It’s those dark days that produce our finest teachings. And, better yet, when you release your obsession with happiness, you may naturally feel lighter and happier. Funny how that works.
• Take what works, leave what doesn’t. Personally, teaching yoga seems to be the only place I am able to let go of my struggle with approval and positive reinforcement. I’m not altogether sure where it came from, but it’s served me well. Taking this way of thinking out of the studio seems to be pretty challenging, but I’m working on it.
Some days this process lights a fire under me and I feel truly connected with myself and those around me. Some days it doesn’t. And that’s okay. Because I’m not supposed to be perfect, and that’s a true relief.