I've spent the last week waist deep in some big projects. It's meant a lot of long hours sitting at the computer, thinking, planning, dreaming, counting and coordinating. It's been wonderful. It's also been a pain in the ass. See, here's the thing. When I get going on something big, something I'm excited about, almost the minute it starts, so does the voice in my head that tells me I don't have what it takes. I'm not smart enough, qualified enough, don't work hard enough to make any of the things I want to happen. I just don't have what it takes. Those voices were particularly loud this week.
Let's back up to January. I started the year with Lightyear Leadership participating in a "Be Your Best Friend" challenge. I don't know who started or suggested it, but what stuck with me from that whole time was one question:
What is required from me today to be my own best friend?
I started to love asking this question, and even more, loving the answers that came out. For a while, it was action oriented: get more sleep. Find time to read a book. Eat vegetables. Go for a hike. Put your phone in the other room at night. Lately, it's turned to what I'm telling myself: Look in the mirror and say I love you. Repeat the mantra: You can do this, etc.
The more I ask myself this question, the more tuned I get into my body and what is really needed for me to feel GOOD, to feel nurtured and cared for. The more... I love myself!
Back to the present: We had a lovely conversation with inquiry club around self care vs self love and what it looks like to really love ourselves. Naturally, the conversation steered toward yoga, toward what it looks like on your mat to choose love. Sometimes, it looks like staying in a pose, because I know my tendency is to bow out, to say "I quit" and to tell myself "I can't." Lately, in my life, that is what it has looked like. The number of times this last week that I wanted to quit the application for registering myself as a yoga training school, to cancel the training, to push it out, was comical. Tim, my husband, kept making wave motions at me with his hand. I was up down, all over the place.
Much like I choose on my mat to stay in a pose, I took applied it to my life and I chose to finish the application. I chose to stay the course. That was self-love for me this week. On top of that, self love was telling myself on repeat "You are 100% capable of doing this." Anytime I'd hear a voice of doubt, a voice telling me I didn't have what it took, I just keep saying, "You are 100% capable of doing this."
I got through. The application is in, that piece of the work is done, and now, I look at the next task of self-love ahead of me. Someone in group last night said,
"Self love isn't always fun or exciting. Sometimes it means doing the things you'd rather not do."
I resonate with this. I would much rather have quit the hard ass pose my teacher Leandra put me in yesterday. I would much rather have quit the application and teacher training altogether. It honestly would have been easier (and a whole lot less work!) It also wouldn't have been loving to myself, because I know how much I love leading trainings and moving people toward growth. Quitting would have been NOT loving myself. Sometimes, loving ourselves means pushing ourselves to do the thing that's scary because we know it's worth it. (note- this is different than pushing ourselves because we feel like we "should" or because of how it will look to other people)
Here's the thing... self-love can also go the other way, and often does for me. Starting on the mat, it can look like coming out of a yoga pose when we're forcing or trying too hard, or trying to be the best. The most loving thing we can actually do, then, is to drop our knees in chatarunga, to put our knee down in crescent lunge. To keep our feet down when the teacher says "take a straddle headstand." I was in this space before I went on vacation. I was trying so hard at so many things, and none of them were really fulfilling me. I was doing them because it looked good or would make me the most money or would increase my status. And none of those thing ultimately benefit me in the long run if that's all I'm after.
The place to look in your life is why you are doing the thing you are doing. Are you doing it for yourself or for others? And if it's for others, is it also fulfilling something within you that needs to be fulfilled? Something that gives you a sense of purpose and meaning? Self-love can often look like doing the thing that fits for you and only you and letting others say/think what they will.
So, with all this, my question for you is: What does self-love look like for you right now?
What do you lovingly need to tell yourself? That you are worthy and deserving of all you desire? That you can do hard things? (thank you, Glennon Doyle, for that one) That it's ok to rest and take breaks? That you are loved? Take some time to journal, to write down your thoughts, and to see what shows up for you. You might surprise yourself with the answers that come. I know mine surprised me.
I'll be practicing self-love all week... practicing on the mat and teaching. Join me for a big old love fest on your own mat, and be in the practice of what self-love looks like for you.