Personal Personal development Yoga

Aiming low

I don’t write and blog as much as I want to, or think I should. It bothers me. I have many ideas and bursts of inspiration from time to time, but I often lack the time or energy to dedicate myself fully to bringing them to completion. Or I’m going through another phase of extreme perfectionism and nothing gets done. Soon a week, or even more, passes without any explicit output. And it makes me feel bad about myself.

It’s easy for me to get caught up in a vicious cycle of feeling bad about myself. Heck, I write about it so much that it must almost seems like it’s all I do.

The thing is, now that I’ve finally quit my PhD I may have relieved myself of some of the pressure I felt to be something that I am not, but I still ask a lot of myself. And dealing with that remains one of my biggest challenges.

Ever since I decided to do yoga teacher training, I have felt the pressure to do yoga every day and be the absolute best and most badass yogi I could be. Under the guise of “getting inspired” I started following tons of yogis on Instagram, many of whom post awesome videos of their self-taught vinyasa flows, doing enviable arm balances and other cool stuff like that – sometimes within months of starting yoga for the first time. And unconsciously I had started to set this same standard for myself. Feeling that, now I had chosen to walk the path of yoga, I’d better be damn good. I’d better start practicing one hour every day AT LEAST, and if I wasn’t making any visible progress on arm strength, or, I don’t know, being able to do a full split within a few weeks, then I was failing as a person and future yoga instructor.

Mind you, the whole reason why I wanted to do yoga teacher training in the first place is because while I was suffering from serious anxiety, yoga was one of the only things that helped me calm down my nerves. Especially with hatha and yin yoga, I feel like I can let go of my own inner critic and can just be myself. Without any pretension or feeling like I have to perform. And oh, how good it feels to let go of all that shit.

But seeing all the perfectly balancing yogis on Instagram, I started to forget about all of that. It was happening again. I was setting the bar too high.

It’s funny how we can be completely aware of our pitfalls in many areas, yet still have a blind spot somewhere. Why is that? Since the end of last year I have taken up bouldering as a new physical activity, and while I love having a new, fun and challenging hobby (which, conveniently, has also greatly helped to shape my social life), I have noticed that I have absolutely no desire to become an expert at it. When a friend recently asked me about my climbing goals, I just answered that I only want to be a bit more graceful in climbing the easy routes. That’s it. I literally said that I don’t want to substitute ambitious bouldering goals for the pressure I felt during my PhD.

And yet I’m doing that exact thing with yoga. And in a different way, I also expect myself to do a lot more writing. But I’m not the type of yogi who has mastered groovy arm balances like these. I even wonder if I will ever be able to do a full headstand, and that’s okay. And although I love, LOVE, writing, and need it to stay sane, this is not the time to expect thousands of blog posts or a fully finished novel. I am working on my own recovery. Not another breakdown.

Last week I received a human design reading from Laura and she reminded me of the fact that I’m not on this earth to compete or prove myself to anyone. That insight was a huge relief.

I know that there’s a lot I could dedicate myself to and many ways to spend my time in a creative or productive way. But ultimately, I just want to feel calm again. I just want to live without any expectations, living, in the words of Alice Walker “frugally on surprise”.

I do things for me. This is something I need to remind myself of, almost every day. Doing things just for me. When did I start handing over the authority over my life to something outside of me?

I don’t have no answers. And maybe that’s okay too. But I’m going to practice setting the bar low for a while and see how things flow from there.


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