“You’re exactly where you need to be”
I really didn’t understand this often quoted phrase. It honestly made no sense to me.
How I could be “exactly where I needed to be,” when I SO wasn’t even near where I WANTED to be in life. My career wasn’t where I wanted it to be. Neither was my body or self-esteem.
And I certainly wasn’t successfully getting pregnant.
Literally everything in my life felt like it could be slightly or astronomically improved.
Even when I was doing yoga, my safe space, this internal critic would speak up:
“You’re not making progress. You look nothing like the Instagram Yogis. How are you ever going to be taken seriously in the Yoga community?“
I’ve had sobbing fits (Crying during Yoga) after coming face to face with my insecurity during yoga. I’ve also felt euphoric highs.
Yoga is our mirror like that. It shows us our greatness. It shows us our soft spots.
That’s why it’s magical.
It’s such a gentle and loving reflection of the kaleidoscope of YOU. The raw unadulterated you.
And all of YOU is breathtaking.
Reading the excerpt below from Tara Brach’s book Radical Acceptance really resonated with me. I’m sure it will for other people as well, especially those in the yoga community. You see a lot of people are drawn to yoga BECAUSE of its healing qualities.
You just feel GOOD when you practice.
It’s like a thick layer of Vick’s vapor is being rubbed all over chest. Ahhh. But after you’re done practicing, your inner critic tends to come back in full force.
It is no longer quieted or hushed by the deep breathing and rhythmic movement.
“After graduating from college, I moved into an ashram, a spiritual community, and enthusiastically devoted myself to the lifestyle for almost twelve years. I felt I had found a path through which I could purify myself and transcend the imperfections of my ego driven self and its strategies. We were required to awaken every day at 3:30 a.m to take a cold shower, and then from four until six-thirty do a sadhana (spiritual discipline) of yoga, meditation, chanting and prayer. By breakfast time I often felt as if I were floating in a glowing, loving, blissful state. I was at one with the loving awareness I called the Beloved and experienced this to be my own deepest essence.
I didn’t feel bad or good about myself, I just felt good.
By the end of breakfast, or a bit later in the morning, my habitual thoughts and behaviors would start creeping in again. Just as they had in college, those ever-recurring feelings of insecurity and selfishness would let me know I was falling short. Unless I found the time for more yoga and meditation, I would find myself once again like my familiar small-minded, not-okay self. Then I’d go to bed, wake up and start over again.“~Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach
So what was Tara’s solution? Radical Acceptance. It is not pushing away anything that you’re experiencing in life, but rather inviting it in as the old friend that it is.
I have to be honest though, I very much struggled with acceptance. Some parts of my life I could accept. I did a lot of work accepting my mom’s death and subsequent infertility issues.
But there was one thing I just couldn’t let in as a friend. It felt WRONG to just accept it.
And that was my anxiety.
Good lord if it was ANYTHING else I could learn to accept it.
If what I needed to accept was my friends body insecurity or my relatives depression I could SO learn to work with that. In fact I have learned to work with both of those.
But NOT my anxiety. That was too hard.
And I didn’t think that this anxiety should even be acknowledged. Let alone be invited in like a “friend.” It had caused me so much pain and was already my constant companion.
I believed that by accepting my anxiety, that I would then be giving it the green light to take up even more space inside of me than it already did.
Isn’t it interesting how hard we deny and push away things in ourselves that are already at the very forefront of our everyday struggle?
Probably all of us have that 1 thing that we don’t feel like we can deal with. It just feels TOO BIG. Or too consuming.
And sometimes generalized terms like “accept it” are not super helpful. If you’re like me and my anxiety, acceptance of it does not come easily……to say the least.
But the exercise from Thich Nhat Hanh’s book has helped me take the idea of acceptance and implement it in a tangible way.
Recognition-If we are anxious, we acknowledge it, “I see you anxiety.”
Acceptance-When anxious, we do not deny its presence.
Embracing-Hanh describes holding our anxiety like a “mother holding her crying baby.” This in and out itself is MINDFULNESS which can create calm inside. Now that our anxiety is seen and heard, it doesn’t have to clamor around and create more noise for our acknowledgement.
Looking Deeply-Now that we’re calm we can more objectively see the cause of this moment’s anxiety. Why is it here?
Insight-Looking deeply shows that there are different conditions affecting anxiety. Perhaps your husband was impatient and cold with you. This triggered your anxiety that snowballed into other emotions such as anger and fear. Then you remember that he has been under a lot of pressure at work. And that it probably has nothing to do with you at all. Once this understanding is present….THEN you can make decisions from a more informed place.
And yes let’s work towards acceptance. But also please remember that your “non-acceptance” is NORMAL. This struggle is absolutely ok.
Pathologizing anything in your life as “who you are” or “my struggle” is very harmful. Moods and feelings such as anxiety, anger, depression are all a normal part of the human experience.
Nothing changes from wishing things were different. Self and situational acceptance are transformative.
And really, what other choice do we have? Oh that’s right…self hatred and resistance. Well if you’re like me that tactic has failed miserably.
So let’s play around with something new!
Everything is exactly as it should be. You are not behind. Or going too slow. You are perfect. And whole. It is all coming together for you in ways that you can’t even see yet. You can trust that not only does the universe/God have your back…but more importantly that YOU have your back.
And that my friend is even better. ♥️