A few months ago, I participated in a workshop that was for me life altering. I recall walking away from that weekend workshop with a few insights that explained why I am the way I am in the world.
Weeks following the workshop, more insights continued to come to me – each with their own power and significance. One of these “epiphanies” revealed that I operate under the belief that “I want to be loved by any means necessary.” This belief, ironically enough, evokes a series of actions and behaviors that actually undermine my ability to actually receive the love I work so hard to desperately obtain.
In short: because I operate under the belief that I want to be loved by any means necessary, I result to any means necessary. If we dig a bit deeper, it becomes apparent that this belief is actually masking a deeper belief – a deeper fear – that who I am, as I am, is not enough.
Consequently, I’ve observed that I often adopt a bunch of different strategies and tactics to mold myself into the “version of Jessica,” that I think another person would love.
This ultimately leads to two results: First, because I mold and manipulate myself to fit the abstract perceptions I think another holds of me, I never provide the other person with the opportunity to get to know the real me.
Secondly, in those rare instances when another person is able to see beyond my smoke and mirrors and really see the real me – I am unable to fully receive their kindness, compassion, or love as being genuine.
Because the thought that permeates my mind in such instances is, “But you don’t see the real me. You only think you do. When you do see who I really am, you will not be so enamored with me.”
Due to the nature of these types of thoughts, I find that I am either on high alert as I attempt to be everything to everyone at all times or I am constantly pushing people away in fear that they will abandon me anyway should they ever discover my own wants, needs, or imperfections – that often are masked or ignored.
All this creates a profound sense of loneliness and isolation – not to mention anxiety.
So why do I do it?
Because some part of me bought into the idea that I wasn’t good enough and continued to subscribe to that channel.
“Great,” you might be thinking. “And what’s this got to do with me or with yoga?”
The answer to this is simple: Yoga is about transformation. It is about returning to a state of wholeness – of heart, body, mind, and soul. Each of us started out on our individual yogic journey because we wanted to reclaim some semblance of wholeness, or balance, mentally, emotionally, physically, or spiritually. To get there, we must, in the words of Yoga Teacher Judith Hansen Laster, “use ourselves to discover ourselves.” To achieve the transformation that we seek, we must travel “through our humanness, complete with our strengths and our weaknesses, our successes as well as our failures.”
So the question that I have for you, the one I am working to answer for myself this week is this: What is that I seek? And how can I remind myself that this thing can only be obtained by me walking with my humanness instead of attempting to mask it?
For some of you, this question might apply to your physical body, the area of work, your asana practice, or even life in general. Wherever it is applicable, can you remind yourself (1) to be gentle with yourself and (2) that by removing the unexamined beliefs that we operate under we are able to see ourselves – our true selves – more clearly. Through that clearer vision, the transformation that we seek is not only possible but also attainable.