21 November, 2016
“When you doubt your power, you give power to your doubt.” ~Honore de Balzac
Right through my early adulthood I believed that positive self worth – that all alluring prize – was something that was gifted to you, or not. Like an extraordinary talent for painting, the gods blessed you with the ability to cheer your side and if not, well, get ready for a life of putting yourself down.
Luckily through a consistent meditation practice I’ve realised that nothing in life, especially things to do with our brains and the way we think, is fixed.
While I was living in London and working as a primary school teacher, I was constantly affronted by the culture clash. Many (not all) of the other teachers and management were very serious, stiff and scrupulously professional. My ‘easy come easy go’, kiwi demeanour rarely fitted in to these houses of uniformity. So I would bounce from one contract to the next, four weeks in one school, five months in the next, a big ole square peg in a slim round hole.
Unfortunately, instead of seeing this time as transitory (an overseas adventure, a phase that would all to quickly pass), I took it seriously and very much to heart. I made it my problem and it bounced up hard against my self worth. Like a merciless wing defence on the netball court, I couldn’t get away from that bitch.
My bitchy wing defence would say “why don’t they like you? You’re a terrible teacher! These people are awful!” – which could all be recorded into a New York Times worst seller “The Reasons I’m not good enough.”
I’ve come to observe that this is one of my grittiest samskaras…
(SAMSKARA: Sanskrit term from the Yoga Sutra, which we use to describe a pattern of the mind)
…and because it is one of the most enduring. It still likes to rear it’s head from time to time, although my ability to notice the pattern has definitely strengthened, like a hard working glute in tree pose. You need to be strong, while at the same time soft.
Many years later, one of the most beautiful mantras I know to share in my yoga classes is:
‘Om shanti, shanti, shanti.
Universal peace, peace, peace.
When you find peace within, you will find peace without’
Off the mat, in our day-to-day lives, this is interpreted as:
‘take responsibility for your mind-set’.
When we take care of ourselves with kindness and nourishment – on all levels, body, mind and soul – then our experience in the world can shift for the positive.
I think this issue is more relevant now than it has ever been, especially for modern women, as we feel under pressure to be all things to all people.
I know I have certainly felt this in my own experience. When led by ego and not intuition, we can fall victim to believing we’ve got to have it all to be it all. Got to be an outstanding Mum, got to have an inviting, clean house, got to create a rewarding, impressive career, got to have perfect relationships, got to, got to, got to.
The super woman syndrome is alive and well in modern society and I believe it’s seriously getting us down.
What do I do personally when I feel overwhelming self doubt looming? The old wing D ego knocking at the front door? Here are my 5 pieces of advice to bring yourself back to a place of self worth and appreciation J Enjoy!
1. Ground Yourself.
Some days we can have so many things to keep track of it feels like our whole being is stuck up in our heads, thinking about things! Of the 60,000 thoughts it is said a human being can have each day, not all of them will be helpful.
To make space from your thoughts it’s important to become grounded again in the body. For this I love physical movement and breath. Physical movement can be as easy as going for a walking meditation (this is where you go for a gentle walk around the block and allow your senses to appreciate what they observe rather than placing judgement). Or you might like to do an hour of flowing asana, with a special focus on opening up the hips (think squats, pigeon and frog poses).
To reconnect to breath, simply place one hand on the heart, the other on the belly and as you gently inhale feel these parts of the body expand. Then gently exhale. Take several slow breaths this way and watch yourself return to ground.
2. Take A Break.
Sometimes when we are feeling overwhelmed by a particular situation and not sure which direction to head next, taking a break can be a great idea. Think about the things you do that you really enjoy and have fun doing – then do those! Allow yourself to be childish and silly. This will help to shift your perspective and when you return you’ll feel refreshed and ready to take action.
3. Nurture Yourself.
It’s easy to get lost in self-doubt when we’re not looking after ourselves. If you’re a mum reading this, you might have realised that sometimes you are the last person to be looked after! However from my perspective we need to reverse this, and if need be, schedule in weekly self-nourishment for ourselves. This might look like a facial, a swim, a gentle walk, a meditation, a movie with a friend, a few pages of a beautiful book.
4. Connect With Others.
Although it’s important to strengthen our own self-love muscles, sometimes it’s important to gain reassurance from those around us. A friend, family member, yogi, healer, therapist, councillor – someone whom we can be completely honest maybe just the trick to lift us out of a ‘why me’ attitude.
5. Balance The Negative.
If you find yourself caught in a cycle of negativity you can balance this by surrounding yourself with positivity. Write out positive aspects or gratitudes in a journal – even if you find it challenging, just do it! It’s incredible how this basic skill can rewire our brains to seek out happiness. Surround yourself with positive, happy people. Weed out friendships that no longer serve you or are keeping you down. Does the body lament when we cut off the old nails and leave them in the dustbin? No, they are forgotten, we move on to growing new ones.
What are the new possibilities in your life today?
For further guidance on this topic please feel free to reach out to me for a coaching session and we can discuss how these strategies will be relevant in your life.