A couple months ago I started doing yoga. I had done some yoga poses before as I was trying to strengthen my core to help with my persistent back problems, but I’d never taken an actual class before. Honestly I’ve never been into the whole “focus on your breathing” stuff but I decided to give it a try.
My first class was brutal. An hour is a very long time to spend breathing, bending, stretching, holding and focusing if you’re not used to it.
The instructor would remind us to “focus on our intention.” Yeah, well my intention is to get through this miserable hour and go grab a cheeseburger! Okay, maybe not a cheeseburger…how about a smoothie? Are my toes supposed to be numb? How long is she going to make us stay upside down like this? I can’t feel my fingers…oh wait…yes I can…owwwww!!! How long has it been? We have to be almost done. What? It’s only been 10 minutes? You have to be kidding!!!
On and on my inner dialog went, ranting the whole time. Yoga is supposed to involve quieting the mind but I’m not sure my mind knew that.
But I’ve realized something else in these classes.
I’m honestly happy with myself and my life yet, as I watch myself in the mirror I’m still far too self critical. Do I really look like that? Why are my arms still so flabby? Maybe I shouldn’t wear this tank top. Ugh, look at those thighs!
Then, even worse I start to compare myself to other people in the class. Wow, how can she bend like that? I’ll never get down that far! Seriously? How does she do that? I wish my stomach was flat like hers!
This is not my conscious mind; these are unconscious thoughts brought about by the “quiet” of the yoga class. These thoughts come to me as I try to clear my mind. The conscious version of me would never think these things. I’m awesome. My life is amazing. My kids are unbelievable. My friends are fantastic. Why would I compare myself to someone I don’t even know? I don’t want to be like her; I want to be like me! These are things I know.
And yet, as far as I’ve come in my journey, there is a faceless enemy looking at me in the mirror.
Being aware of this though is a good thing! It means I know what I need to work on. Unwittingly I have been programmed for negative self-talk. It’s egotistical to think too highly of yourself. I’m not worthy of respect. I’m not as important as other people. These, among others, are messages that were conveyed in my childhood.
I was poor, and therefore somehow less valuable as a person than my richer peers. I was “big boned,” and therefore somehow less pretty than the skinny girls. I was shy, and therefore somehow less noticeable than the more outgoing kids. I was always “less than.” I faced these messages every day until they became my story.
But it’s time to rewrite my story. Each time that terrifying faceless monster comes out I will fight. I will fight for the woman I am, and the woman I want to be. I will fight for my girls, and my friends who are fighting their own demons. I will fight, and I will win.
This post is in response to the daily writing prompt Faceless