“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
Today’s reading is about letting go of inhibitions. It’s something that has been on my mind lately, as I step out in a new and bigger way in my yoga teaching and as I explore new opportunities to create and teach memory keeping.
Whether we realize it or not, we are socially programed to be inhibited. We are taught to put on our most presentable, professional selves every single day – whether we’re meeting with clients, consulting with our boss, or meeting a friend we don’t know very well.
It can be fun, of course, to be presenting yourself in the best version of you. I mean, who doesn’t love putting on a nice outfit and getting your makeup just right and giving off that “I’ve got this” look that comes only with polish and practice?!
But while that can be fun, it is also inherently limiting. Because whether you realize it or not, being that way requires you to live within certain boundaries. There are things you can say – and things you cannot. There are ways you can physically connect, with your environment and others – and ways you cannot. There are things that are taboo and social norms and considerations to be made.
And all of that – the considering, the wondering, the feedback loop – can be incredibly exhausting.
I have spent the better part of my adult life navigating a highly variable set of social norms, developing conversational elements that are effective in a variety of groups, and honing in on my professional image. And every time I got good at it, comfortable in “being myself” in each environment – that was when a change in position, career, life occurred. Either I left that job, or graduated from that program, or finished that volunteer position, or got promoted to something new.
And each time I had to start over again.
Being a Professional with Deep Authenticity
Now, as a yoga teacher, being a “professional” in this profession is entirely opposite to everything I’ve known. To be a yoga teacher, you need to be authentic. Real. You need to give your most authentic self, the stuff that makes you tick, the things that are held deeply inside you – no matter how uncomfortable or sad or scary or silly or embarrassing it is.
You need to bring all of that to the surface and you need to share it with the people in your classes.
But it doesn’t end there. Because in order to be effective as a yoga teacher, you need to help safely evoke that same stuff in everyone you teach. You need to help them find their most authentic self, to get okay with it, and to love it.
In order to be effective, you have to get really good at being you. Authentically. And you have to be really good at being okay with whatever that means. Because the second that you’re not, people will know. They will call you out on it. And you will know that they did.
Knowing that truth – the unspoken agreement of authenticity and radical self love required to be at the helm of this journey which is a deeply personal experience felt through a deeply physical experience – is truly work that requires a lifetime.
And I’m telling you – it is WAY HARD. And I’m telling you – it is absolutely worth it.
Studying Radical Authenticity and Self-Love from the Experts: Kids
Yesterday Max had a friend over. They were doing puzzles and professing their “expertise” in doing the puzzle. “I am an EXPERT at this puzzle!” Max proclaimed. “I am an EXPERT at puzzles too!” exclaimed his friend. I know what you’re thinking: ‘aww, kids are so cute, but they don’t know what it means to be an expert.’
And maybe they don’t.
But that boundless statement isn’t about expertise in puzzles, it’s about being proud of themselves in doing something that they love.
Wouldn’t it be nice if you actually believed that the things you are best at – whether that’s a profession, or running your household, or loving everyone in your life – were your expertise? Wouldn’t it be nice if you could free yourself, just a bit, from the social norms that lock us into a way of being, and just authentically, radically love ourselves enough to genuinely be proud, happy, elated, free?
I hope for that, for myself and for you, every single day.
But I’m not the one with the answers. My kids are. And your kids, or your friends kids, or your grandkids, or your nieces and nephews, or your neighbors – they have the answer. Just watch.
For several years Ali Edwards has started her year with a word. No resolutions or promises to break, just one little word® to check back on for guidance or reflection. As she describes it, “You live with it. You invite it into your life. You let it speak to you. Follow where it leads. There are so many possibilities.” After a challenging 2016, my choice for 2017 is to become SECURE. Each month, I’m focused on a different aspect of securing who I am, where I am, and what we’re doing. I hope you’ll join me on this journey. For more of my one little word, follow my tag one little word.
MOPS, or Mothers of Preschoolers, is and international organization that encourages and equips mothers of young children to realize their potential as mothers and leaders. “We’ve all been placed in this time and place in history, as the tribe of women who are raising the world. And the beauty of it is that we don’t all have to agree with one another but everyone is in and we all need each other.” This 28-day challenge is coupled with reading, a daily truth or dare, and videos and resources that allow us to connect, discuss, and dive into this topic of woman-hood and mother-hood. Come back daily, or read along in this thread, to see my posts and stories for each day.