The Practice

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Growing up, I’ve always felt like I had to change for the people in my life – myself included – to become more this or more that in order to fit in and just feel like I belonged somewhere. From family to friends, I rarely felt good enough as is.

I’m not sure if this is something that everyone experiences while growing up or if I subconsciously sought it out and manifested it into my life, but I was stuck in a loop of always trying to please everyone else. In the process of rearranging yourself to other people’s needs, it’s easy to lose sight of yourself.

You get so busy implementing everyone else’s suggestions in an attempt to create their most desirable version of you that you don’t give the actual, natural born, you any room to shine. You’re so beaten down by others telling you not to be you, to change into someone else, someone better, that it’s impossible to love or accept the person looking back at you in the mirror – let alone know who that person even is.

It does something to you when the people you love and trust the most find so many things wrong with you and consistently urge you to become something else.

The greatest gift I have ever been given is to just be.

My older cousin jokes with me (maybe she’s serious?) that I’m too self-aware of myself and my body; that I’m always trying to optimize everything to the highest degree, almost compulsively. She says this with an air of concern that suggests that I need to CHILLAX. While I don’t think that my behavior is quite at a concerning level (not yet at least), I can see her heart as she says it. She’s basically saying that I can take it easy on myself and gently reminding me that I don’t have to become perfect, I can just be.

I think the little girl inside me really needs to hear things like that more often.

It’s such a liberating concept. The idea that we don’t have to constantly strive to become. We can just be who we are and do what comes naturally. Ambitious, type A people are prone to obsessively changing and improving the things around them. Yet, while these traits are widely praised and can bring about certain positive results, sometimes the things being obsessed over don’t even need to be changed. We waste energy trying to fix something that isn’t broken and in turn miss the opportunity to just embrace what is and be happy with the present moment. Life doesn’t have to fit your idea of perfect before it can be enjoyed.

If we put joy to the side in order to attain perfection then it will always lie outside of our reach.

This is something I really struggle with. I actually wrote a very similar piece about this topic about a year ago which just goes to show how long it takes to adjust your mindset. Whether I should be doing more or finding peace in the present moment is something I’m constantly questioning.

A good mirror affirmation to combat this is:

“I love and accept you exactly the way you are.”

I try to say this in the morning when first see myself in my bathroom mirror. It’s a nice alternative to the default groggy approach to a new day. I got this practice from the original affirmation queen, Louise Hay, in her book You Can Heal Your Heart. It took me a couple of months of remembering to say it to myself daily (and forgetting more often than not), but today it really registered. I don’t have to change a million things about myself. I don’t have to “fix” me. I’m fine as is. And this doesn’t mean I won’t continue to improve myself in various ways, it more so shifts my approach.

I’m not a broken person searching for wholeness, I’m already whole.

I don’t have to wait to be a certain level of acceptable. I’m already good and I’m constantly getting better – building upon who I was the day before with gentle understanding.

I’m learning to accept things as they come and force things less. My yoga practice has been so helpful with this. In yoga, they say that how we show up on the mat is how we show up in life. The body is a metaphor. We’re told to practice ease and respect how we feel on any given day instead of trying to force our body into a specific pose. Yes, we’re ultimately working towards achieving an ideal pose but day by day the practice simply builds upon itself. The ideal doesn’t have to consume us as we do the daily work.We’re encouraged to go at our own pace and pay attention to what suits us.

And since the body is a metaphor, these philosophies translate seamlessly when we apply it life. We could benefit from releasing our idea of what we consider the ideal and instead approach life as a daily practice. It doesn’t have to look perfect today, tomorrow or next week but we can enjoy it anyway.

Enjoy the practice.

still-learning

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(photo source: benharveyjr.tumblr.com; crazy-sad-boy.tumblr.com)
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