Be Nice

In this morning’s class, I felt compelled to recite a poem or quote to my students. I turned to my Pinterest board of quotes and out of all the thumbnails, this is the one that jumped out at me:

Genius, right?

And yet…NOT being hard on ourselves is really hard to do.

I don’t know about you, because there’s a chance I may not even know you, but I know myself: I am really good at taking care of other people. Every job I have held, save for one, has been a job of service to others: an assistant, a book keeper, a dog walker, a pet sitter, a nanny, and now a yoga teacher. I love taking care of people. I love helping people. As I mentioned in my first post: I just want everyone to be happy.

Growing up, I was constantly described as “too nice” by other people…and yet I was pretty horrible to myself. I beat myself up, put myself down, and pushed myself too hard. And oftentimes, I still do.

I can’t imagine this not resonating with just about everybody. We are so good at being good to others, but never showing ourselves that same amount of tenderness, of kindness, of support.  And why would we? We live in a world that encourages us to be unhappy with ourselves. Everywhere we look, especially in LA, we are INUNDATED with images of what we should look like and what we should wear or drive or eat. We are programed to believe that "If I just had that..." and "If I just looked like..." "...THEN I'd be happy." 

Why?

Oh man, there are so many reasons why, and I am sure if I keep this blog up, I'll end up talking about our government and politics (much to my boyfriend’s dismay).  But for now, let’s keep it universal: we tie our worth and value to everything and everyone outside of ourselves, assuming the love and praise of another is infinitely more valuable than that which we can give ourselves. And yet, we don't think we deserve the love and praise of another just for being ourselves.  We diet, we work-out, we carefully strategize what we post online so we appear to be something bigger, something better, something more than what we are. 

We are too hard on ourselves because we don't think we are enough. 

I will be honest with you: a lot of being a yoga instructor in Los Angeles nowadays has little to do with being a yoga instructor and more to do with how sexy you look without a shirt on and if you have a strong Instagram following. 

As an instructor and a trainer, my worth-literally my financial worth and quality of life is tied up in whether or not you showed up on your mat that day. When classes dwindle or clients go out of town, your classes become at risk of being put on a cutting board.  When you see or meet social media influencers that may not even be certified posting that they're teaching at a studio nearby or selling fitness programs online that people are buying...it's slightly terrifying, and very disheartening. I absolutely go through phases where I beat the crap out of myself: convincing myself my classes are not selling out anymore because I'm not sexy enough, I don't post on social media enough, I don't play Drake or The Weekend enough... 

Ridiculous, right? And I KNOW that. I think deep down we all KNOW when we're being absurd. But that doesn't stop that hamster wheel of self-doubt from spinning. 

I woke up one morning last month and noticed that my jaw was hurting.  By the end of the day, my jaw had shifted out of place and I could no longer close my mouth.  It stayed like that for almost two weeks.  I went to acupuncture, I got a special pillow, I went to a chiropractor, I got a massage…and the main consensus was stress. I was being so unkind, so hard on myself that my jaw literally moved out of place! My body breaks down when something is happening emotionally or psychologically, and it really forces me to confront whatever is happening and remedy the behavior.  I became obsessed with staying calm and relaxed, continued my chiro and acupuncture visits and then, just as quickly as it moved out of place, my jaw went back into place. 

I talk to my students about this a lot: about how the mental strain we put on ourselves moves into our physical body. And ultimately, there isn't anything that's worth you stressing yourself out to the point that your body begins to break down. And here I was, yet again, a living example of what a lack of self-care can do.

A few days ago I was doing a home practice through poweryoga.com taught by Bryan Kest. And he said something that was so perfect:

"If you grew up on an island in the middle of nowhere with no media, you wouldn’t know you were fat or ugly."

Just take a second with that one, will you. Here, I'll add it into the post again and make the font bigger and center it for effect:

"If you grew up on an island in the middle of nowhere with no media, you wouldn’t know you were fat or ugly."

He continued on to say that, because of this mystical land where media (mainstream and social) doesn't exist, when you would engage in physical activity, you'd be doing it because it FEELS GOOD. Not as a punishment. Not to look a certain way. You would simply be doing something for yourself because it makes YOU feel GOOD.

One of the studios I teach at just finished up a 30-Day challenge. It was so amazing seeing how many people really committed to coming in and doing something for themselves every day. I can't speak to the motive of all the challengers, but for many the habit they instilled of a daily practice of self-care stuck with them even when the challenge came to an end. So, I thought to myself about what Bryan said, about how 30-Day challenges are fun (did I mention I'm competitive?), and about that quote that I read this morning.

And I decided to start my own 30-Day challenge:

30 days of doing things that FEEL GOOD.  

 

Here’s my list:

  • 30 min of light cardio on the daily
  • 50 squats & 50 full sit-ups
  • Spend more time in my hammock
  • Daily journal writings
  • Cook from my new cookbook
  • Take time to read (I usually just do audio books)
  • Say nicer things to myself
  • Nap
  • Watch my hummingbirds more

My goal over the next 30 days, is to be of service...to myself. As you can see, some of those are things I will do everyday, and others I just want to consciously engage in more often over the next month. 

And not because I want to feel comfortable without a shirt on (I probably will never feel comfortable without a shirt on) or because I want my classes to keep selling-out. It's simply because when I'm nice to myself, everything else in life feels infinitely better. 

How can you be more gentle with yourself on a daily basis? Let me know. And let me know if you need some ideas or help on how to get started.

 

And above all else, please know this one undeniable unquestionable unwavering truth:

YOU ARE MORE THAN ENOUGH

exactly as you are

YOU ARE MORE THAN ENOUGH

 

xoxo!