‘Learning to love yourself’ – We’ve all heard it so many times, and especially us busy mums! But what does that mean anyway? It’s all over social media, magazines and self-help books… I had trouble with understanding the concept for many years until I decided I wanted to learn how to do a free-standing handstand (which I perceived it to be a yoga pose completely out of my league and reserved for acrobats). How does that relate to loving yourself you may ask?
Let me explain…I started kicking up the wall – dozens, hundreds of times maybe – but that really heavy bottom of mine just wouldn’t lift off. I felt like a whale out of the water and oh, the internal dialogue – “I’m stupid, I can’t do any of this s$%&t, why do I even bother with this, I’m too old, it’s just showing me all the stuff I’m not good at, I’m just bad at it…” – you get the picture! So much drama!!
It was annoying, frustrating, and painful to feel this way. But I didn’t want to just give up, so I kept on trying, and little by little, progress was made.
But what happened was totally unexpected. In my mind I was just working towards a handstand yet at the same time – and more importantly – I started noticing that I was often calling myself names and not just while trying to practice my handstand. We all do it – calling ourselves an idiot, that we are stupid etc. – when we don’t achieve what we set out to do, or for something as trivial as forgetting the kid’s afternoon tea.
From there, my yoga practice transformed. I dropped the name calling and replaced it with simple observations like ‘mmm… my balance is off today’. The mat became a metaphor for a new way of dealing with my perceived failures giving me the confidence to keep trying and improve. Off the mat, I became a lot less harsh with myself and started treating myself better, like a good friend or a nurturing mother would. I started perceiving myself under a different light, giving myself permission to not be perfect, and be ok with it.
But wait, it gets better!…
I became much calmer with the kids. I became more aware of the emotions arising and avoided so many outbursts of anger that wouldn’t have helped in any way. As I was becoming more accepting of myself, I became more understanding and accepting of others, too. I was a lot less often upset with the kids and learnt to pick my battles.
The end result? I don’t even care that much if I do or don’t do a handstand. What I’ve been learning in the process is amazing enough! And that really is what yoga is about!