Reflecting on 2018

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On more than one occasion I mentioned to someone that 2018 had been a really challenging year for me only to be met with a quizzical look. On the outside, 2018 was a great year both professionally and personally. Internally, there was a lot of turmoil and some major shifting caused by finally realizing my own self-worth, no longer judging myself, and ceasing to be busy all the time.

Early this year as I began lesson planning for the first yoga teacher training I would be co-leading it became clear that I could not continue to shrink and deny my strengths and talents. I couldn’t ask others to stand in their power and shine their lights brightly if I was dimming my light hiding in the corner. Other people believed in me so maybe, just maybe, it was time to start believing in myself. It was time to fully own my strengths and weaknesses. Acknowledging all the ways I had been holding myself back, all the missed opportunities, and all the unhealthy relationships was like a punch in the gut. I’m still unpacking where the denial of my self-worth truly stems from. Somewhere along the road I began to feel less than, not quite good enough, a small weight I began toting around early in life that gained in heft until it effectively overshadowed everything. For so long I lied to myself saying it was just healthy self-criticism and critique. In reality it was perfectionism run amok. Several years ago I began to genuinely hear the voices of those close to me asking that I acknowledge all the ways my lack of self-worth was impacting my everyday life from relationships to income to daily interactions and conversations. I had to truly own up to this and take some very hard, sometimes painful, actions to drop the weight. After months of anxiety induced sleeplessness I finally increased my private client fees and asked for raises at the studios where I taught. A few important relationships had to end, some ended when others walked away from me, some ended when I chose to walk away. Let me tell you, it sucks to be on both sides of that coin – loss is loss no matter where you stand. Old internal dialogues that had become entrenched in the way I spoke to myself had to be massively rewritten. I had to consciously practice speaking to myself in different ways, kinder, more positive ways.

For years, okay, decades, I believed that I could silently judge myself in every imaginable way while remaining nonjudgmental of others. Sure, a few people had openly called me out as being judgmental of others over the years, which totally irritated me (in the way we get shifty and angry and full of blame when called out on things that are true but we are unready to hear and accept) before I shrugged it off as nonsense. It wasn’t until I addressed the self-judging and critiquing, actively choosing to rewrite my internal monologue, that I realized how much I was also silently judging others. It was rarely the big stuff, although, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t judging others about big stuff at times. I was mostly judging others about little stuff, what they posted on Instagram, the clothes they wore, the new haircut, the way they spoke to others, it allowed me to feel right, justified in my choices, dare I even say, superior. This was not something that was easy or comfortable to admit. Quite honestly, it felt super shitty to stare this fact down and take it in. All of the self-judging made me feel lousy so in turn, I was judging others to help boost myself back up. What an ugly, vicious cycle. No one was winning. The more I silenced the judging voice speaking to me the more it stopped speaking about others. The little things just didn’t matter. I did not need to get worked up over or have any opinions or feelings about all the trivial stuff I had been choosing to weigh in on simply because it momentarily turned the harsh judging voice away from myself and bolstered how I was feeling. Releasing the judging voice kind of happened overnight. Well, my realization of it happened overnight. In hindsight, it had been a work in progress built upon millions of barely perceptible baby steps I had begun taking a few years ago.

I, like so many others, wore being busy as a badge of success. Being busy meant I was an accomplished, in-demand yoga teacher. I had made it. Living in New York City can sometimes feel like a competition to see who can be the busiest. It is, after all, the city that never sleeps filled with people who go, go, go, go, go. However, being busy all the time also meant I was tired all the time, always teetering on the edge of burnout, and not fully present or dealing with a lot of stuff in my life. I am fortunate to love my work, but I was not okay with it becoming the sole thing everything else in my life revolved around. Slowing down was hard. I had been on the go-go-go, crash and burn, pause, and repeat cycle since I was a teenager. Choosing not to be busy all the time meant letting go of classes and clients I loved working with and creating a new schedule. First, I luxuriated in having time to fully engage in things I love like cooking and baking, and going to the theatre regularly as opposed to once in awhile. Then, I got bored. I felt huge pangs of guilt over having downtime each week. And then all kinds of stuff started to surface, feelings I hadn’t really had time to deal with, choices I had made and the consequences I had cleverly sidestepped because I was…busy. Things that needed attention and focus, painful, messy things like processing the loss of certain relationships and accepting that years I would never get back had been devoted to work instead of other pieces of my life suddenly had my time and attention. My first instinct was to pick up more classes and clients, in other words, return to being busy. Instead, I set firm boundaries with myself and chose to finally sort through and deal with the uncomfortable feelings that surfaced. I will admit, I kind of miss wearing the busy badge, but devoting more time and energy to things outside of work has been truly wonderful.

I’ve been sitting with all of this as 2018 winds down and people begin talking about setting goals and intentions for 2019. I’ll be spending the last handful of days remaining in this year reflecting on all of the shifts that took place, allowing them to sink in a little more before I start pondering what I hope to bring into fruition in the New Year. At the heart of all the change was how I spoke to myself, my internal dialogue. I started to fully understand the power of my own thoughts and the importance of consciously choosing how I spoke to myself, which in the end impacted how I treated others and myself.

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About DjunaPassman

I practice and teach yoga. I attempt to carry what I learn on my mat and through my students into the real world. Sometimes I am successful and sometimes I am grumpy and less than kind. I started life as a dancer, moved on to choreographing, worked as a dance/movement therapist, then realized the wonders of a regular yoga practice. I am a realist - whether the glass is half full or half empty you are bound to spill its contents if you are wearing white (this is why I wear black so often). I am not an expert on yoga, life, or anything else for that matter. I do my best to keep my mind and my heart open every day (some days are better than others).
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