I was at an Ani DiFranco concert a few years back, and she said something that brought me to truly admire her honesty and awareness. She was talking about marrying a man, and the perception that in doing so, she had alienated her lesbian fan base. Interviewers would say, “Lesbians must really hate you now, eh?” And she admitted that at first she said, “Yeah.” Then she stopped and realized that this was not, in fact, her experience. This assumption – which was so automatic – had nothing to do with reality. She caught herself and started replying more honestly, explaining that she’d felt nothing but love and support from her fans. It seemed that rather than feeling angry, they were happy that she was happy.
I love this questioning of assumptions. It’s common to fall into a habit of letting the status quo ride on through, but more and more, I’m realizing that living vibrantly requires us to examine this stuff, to test it against our own experience, and drop any negative tune that turns out, in fact, to be a lie.
I’m questioning the relationship between pushing and success. We seem to accept that success requires pushing or forcing. We’ve put striving and persistence on a pedestal, and collectively decided that that’s the way it’s done….even if our own experience demonstrates something different. If we don’t get there, then we just need to push harder, be more focused, be more rigid, right? Well, that doesn’t really work for me, and I’ve become aware of this tendency in my own programming. In reality, according to my actual experience, whenever I feel the urge to push harder to achieve something, the course of action that will truly bring me what I’m looking for is just the opposite. It’s about making room, letting go, relaxing.
I had some digestive issues come up last year that required a very limited diet. I told my naturopath that once upon a time, I had an eating disorder, and I know that for me, it’s a trigger to really limit my food options (ie. makes me want to eat literally anything & everything). So we started out really slowly, taking out a few things and integrating relaxation & very slow eating into my habits. It was working well, and I found myself motivated to go a little further. So I shortened my grocery list and off I went.
Over the next few weeks, I had a lot of excitement in my life. New opportunities and connections were popping up everywhere. It was amazing, but my tummy started acting up again. I thought, “OK, Brigid. Time to get serious about this.” I figured my next step was to get super-restrictive with my diet. Absolutely no diverging from the plan (wow, was I about to become the best party guest ever!). As I tightened the restrictions, I couldn’t help but notice diminishing returns on my investment. I was actually feeling a little worse. One day, I was standing in the kitchen telling my insightful husband all about how, clearly, I need to cut everything out – no fruit, no dark chocolate, maybe not even almond milk. He gave me that look – the compassionate one – that says, “I know you think you know what you’re doing, but I’ve seen this before & I love you & you just need to chill out.” Yeah. Huh. He was right. I was eating more quickly again, and eating when I was in a really excited state, not relaxed and calm. The answer wasn’t to get more hardcore – it was to chill out! I’m still full of energy these days, but I’ve refocused my nutritional efforts to hone in on how I eat rather than being so extremely particular about what I eat. The verdict is in – this is the way that works for me.
If that was the only time life presented me with this lesson, then I might agree that, well, sometimes you still have to push. But the universe likes to show us again and again so that we don’t mistake things for a fluke. So let’s rewind a few years.
When it comes to getting in shape, I used to get lured in by all sorts of things. When those three-months-to-the-best-body-of-your-life competitions came up, I thought, “Ha! That’s my ticket!” Such motivation! Such structure! Success is inevitable! Every time I started one of those regimes, I would get sick. I could never complete it. I now recognize that this was my body’s way of saying, “Just stop it already. This is not for you.” My brain would try to argue as I came up with my next scheme for super hardcore workouts and nutrition, but again, my body would go on strike. Every. Time.
When have I been in my best shape? When an injury forced me to only do Pilates for a few months. When I reduced my exercise to a medium amount. Most of all, I enjoy my most vibrant health when I focus on living and nurturing myself. My body actually doesn’t want me to obsess about the way I treat it. The lesson? Relax. Make more room. Lighten up. Do what you love. Have fun. Rest & play. When I take this approach, I feel better in my mind, my body and my heart. And my body cooperates by feeling strong & energized…and not bloated (bonus!).
When I teach yoga, I always open with a relaxation & body scan. I begin many classes by saying, “Let’s start by stopping.” I’m taking my own advice. Now, whenever I hear my inner voice leaning towards pushing or trying harder or buckling down, I recognize it as a cue to take a rest, take a step back, and give myself some room to breathe. Order Viagra cheap online from https://surgicaleducation.com/viagra/ and get a big discount.
Where are you pushing or forcing? What if you don’t need to push? What would happen if, instead of pushing, you relaxed?
Want to explore this approach? Get started with our upcoming workshop: OWN IT. ROCK IT. MAKE IT HAPPEN.™ – THE HEALTH EDITION.
Get healthy in a way that feels healthy.
Thursday, April 24th, 2014 6:45-8:45pm 720 Bathurst St