Being a people pleaser is hard. Mainly, because it a signals a deeply internal need to feel that everybody likes you. You try and try, but alas, we weren't made for everyone to like everyone else. Or everything else. Its not a big deal. Unless you have this nagging need for people to like you. So you try and try and bend over backward, whether they know it or not, and ultimately, life serves up this beautifully messily packaged lesson in the form of your hard work not landing right with someone. ...they don't like you. Oy, the injustice! What did I do to deserve this disdain?? I thought I'd shaped myself in the exact image that they would be able to accept.
There it is.
Did you catch it?
That fleeting thought, where I acknowledged to myself that I had momentarily deviated from the trueness of myself to create an alternate, shinier, happier, more productive, life-shopped self, that... well, isn't true. Its such a shame isn't it? Not every client will love my work. Not every yoga student will connect with how I teach. Not every person I meet will love my humor. Not every loved one will feel loved by how I love.
This lesson will slap me across the face probably a bazillion more times before I actually change the way I see myself in relationship to other people and despite all the practice I've had at seeing the world as a projection of my own and therefore all within my control how I see others and how I let this self-created projection shape my experience. Despite the knowledge that as one of my first yoga gurus reminded us often "if you walk away from your practice knowing what your neighbor was wearing, you were spending too much time focusing your energy outward, and not focused enough on your own practice" (which can be extrapolated to life too). In fact, I read blogs maybe every day, if not at least a few times a week, extolling the virtues of being in your own life - pay attention to the things you like that are happening and don't give so much attention to the things that are not going as you had expected. Focus on what is right, and it will increase. Move on from what isn't, and don't worry what other people think of you. See? I know all the right words. But, well, that is an idealism that just hasn't worked it's way into my worldview yet.
This is why the other day, I had a yoga private client that about crippled me energetically. She didn't mean to. It was 100% me. And if I had been paying more attention, we would've done about 2/3 restorative poses and called it a day with two happy and well rested campers walking away from the session. Instead, I did all that I could to find this pose and that gentle stretch that she could do, and finding none, proceeded to take her head shaking and negativity quite personally. When, at the beginning of the session I had asked her what her goals were in beginning a yoga practice and her response was not to be strong, flexible or spiritually enlightened, but rather to increase her sense of well being. I had listened, and tried all that I was used to trying to reach a similar goal, but not exactly her goal. Her goal could've been reached easily with restorative poses, and I was blind to it until the bitter end. I knew immediately that I had been insensitive, and acted with a complete lack of creativity and softness. And I realized one thing. Maybe I"m not a great restorative yoga teacher. Maybe I'm great at teaching a dynamic, flowing class that leaves one feeling strong and empowered, but for those that want to sink into a deep surrender, maybe I don't know how to guide them there.
So am I deficient in skill because I don't teach every type of yoga known to western man? My need to please people shouts a resounding YES!! Yes, girl, you are. My need to please people has woven a tapestry that is gnarled up with hopes dashed, with expectation that if I were just something else, something more - I could be the one that solves everything for you. That helps you see why to care more, open your eyes and change. But clearly the change must come from me. And I see that yes, in fact the deficiency comes from my lack of confidence. MY lack of confidence. Even that - taking possession of the lack of confidence, makes it that much harder to shake.
A lack of confidence.
One that may just begin to change if I can care more about loving myself than about what others think. If I open my eyes to the truth and beauty that is reflected back at me from the world and those I meet in it. Because it is indeed a reflection. And the source of that reflection is me. And the change, well, the change will never come from others in my life. It will only come in the form of how I see them. MY (and this time I do intentionally mean possession) interpretation of them. And if I can bring more joy, compassion and acceptance into MY eyes, then that is how I will in turn be seen. The more we uplift, the more we are lifted up.
This yoga client was sent to me from the universe to teach me. To help me begin to unravel the tapestry, and to accept my own self. To realize the worth that I bring to this experience and to begin to let go of the rigidity around who I think I am. As we blur the edges around who we think we are, we open ourselves up to the infinite potential of what we could be. What benefit we could share. What abundance we can bring into service.
So, at the end of the day, I must thank the universe for crushing my ego. (Oh, I bet there's a tiny bit left...) For breaking me down like a military drill sergeant, so that I may rebuild myself in a shinier, more content and more productive mold. And one that is less rigid, more organic, and most importantly, sees that I see the world as I see myself.
As a student of yoga, massage, meditation , poetry and other such introversions, I figured some of my inspirations might also touch the hearts of others. Read, ruminate, digest, create...always returning to this well of deep love inside to renew ourselves and rediscover what we are. Enjoy!