Friday, August 19, 2016

Put Away the Fly Swatter: Take in the Good

Ever notice how when something bad happens, or someone says something hurtful, you hang onto it for hours, days even? Sometimes these difficult experiences get so embedded that you may recall them years later and still remember them in vivid detail.

And when someone says something nice to us- we do such weird things, like "Oh, thanks, these earrings only cost $5," or "Oh, no, I actually put ON five pounds!". Someone complimented my clear skin the other day, and I went into this whole thing about how I'd eaten at Vik's Chaat House a couple of times in a row and gotten zits on my chin. Like, why?

In the past, I'd either do one of the weird things mentioned above, or I'd do this thing where I'd say, "Oh thanks" really hurriedly, almost impatiently, like their compliment was an imposition on my story, then wave my hand like I was swatting at a pesky fly, and continue talking.

I have really been trying to slow down and fully accept compliments these days. To take a moment and let it go inside me.

I am also noticing with all these new learnings in my life, it takes so much time to really internalize them, to make a true habit out of them. And, I'm sure you've noticed this too- we start to do these new healthy behaviors one at a time, feel like we've made progress, but then when something big happens, we revert to our old selves as if we hadn't made any progress at all.

I noticed I did this the other night, when no one showed up to my dance class. I was upset. I wrote about it immediately. But then the very next day, I got an email about my yoga class which had not one, but five positive things stated about me, and I swatted it away and continued to wallow about the dance class.

So at this point, I'm not going to beat myself up about that, any of it. But I did realize that I'd done this thing and I want to rectify it.

Because there's this, one of the greatest lines I've ever read in my yoga trainings: the practice is not about being perfect. The practice is about coming back to the practice (after you slip), over and over.

So I slipped. But I'm back. And I want to equalize things, my own perception of myself by doing some acknowledging of the good.

The good thing that happened this week is that I subbed yoga at a gym by my house. A gig I got by being ballsy-go-getting-hustling my way in. Good for me. Ten people showed up. That's more than I've ever taught yoga to at one time. I brought candles from home, and, of course, my lavender eye pillows.

I remember hearing my voice fill the room and really liking it. My voice that in the past was so soft, so quiet, so self-silencing, now rang through the gym, speaking from a place of confidence, of knowledge. Confidence that came after two long years of struggling with my yoga practice, dropping out of one of my programs, coming into another. Confidence that came from a place of having done the hard work. Of learning and practicing and healing.

I led the class in a thirty minute meditation, which I'd never done before. I took a moment before entering the gym, grounded myself, brought in my good intent and energy, and it was from there that I powered through the nervousness of doing something new.

I don't remember what I said, but I saw someone smile. At one point, I made the whole class laugh.
People have told me I'm funny but I've swatted them away. People have said my writing is funny, but I've said, "Pshhhh, I want my writing to be Serious. I want to make people cry, not laugh. Only then will I be a Real Writer." Where do we get these notions?

It's not like I plan my jokes out, but there is always intentionality when I make jokes in my classes. I want people to get out of their heads, stop worrying about being perfect, relax and have fun.

The yoga class had been at a small, independent gym, and the owner really cares about her clients. She emailed them for feedback about me straightaway. Then forwarded me the whole string of emails. I looked at it with eyes that were still blurry from a night of crying. It took a moment to realize what I was seeing. There were five emails strung together. Offering really honest feedback. Really positive feedback. About ME.

Here is what they said:

The meditation class was good, it was a good balance of guidance and silence, and she kept the meet-you-where-you're-at, no pressure vibe.

I thought she did a very nice job.  Autumn had said that the Yoga would be more restorative than strenuous, so that expectation was already set.  

I liked Phi a lot. She practices a more restorative, less athletic style of yoga than Autumn, and I thought it complemented the meditation class well. I did think the meditation class was a little unstructured. I'm used to Autumn talking us through stuff, and Phi's long silences took getting used to. Not that that's bad; it's just an adjustment.

She was great! Loved the restorative yoga session even though I missed Autumn ;) Phi was kind, funny, and attentive. She fit right in.

Yeesh. That's a lot of really positive things. It's hard to record them here, for you all to see. But I am. It's hard not to swat them away and talk about the things I didn't do perfectly, but I will try. 

And I invite you to put away the fly swatter too. The next time someone compliments you, see if you can just say, "Thank you." It may feel like a root canal at first, but just try it. 

Once you get used to that, see if you can really take in the compliment. Hear it. Believe it. 

Down with fly-swatters*

*also known as fly-flaps, which, for some readers, are bringing up a whole nother trauma:)