Self-doubt is not the same thing as self-consciousness.
Why does this distinction matter? Because too often on our yoga mats and off, we think we doubt our abilities, when really we’re just hyper-aware of how others judge our abilities. That alone might be the reason you never want to step foot in a yoga studio, or why you get so darn nervous before you teach.
To help bypass all the second-guessing moments of your life — you’re better off without them — I offer you a story.
Last week, I had an intense EMDR session with my therapist. Target: my misophonia. Even before we began, I was teary and blubbery. I wanted to release the pent up anxiety I got around a particular noise trigger — throat clearing — which had been haunting me all month.
The thing with misophonia, or with anything that persistently causes you anxiety, is sometimes the triggers can change. What isn’t a big deal one day is a huge deal the next. And if you’re quick to go to your trauma brain (oh, hi amygdala!) like I am, then you know how easy it is to exchange happy for hopeless.
When you do that, you start to doubt your ability to overcome your issue. Or, at least, it feels like self-doubt.
I’m right there with you when crawling into Child’s Pose is a chore. But you not having the energy to come to your mat, or get out of grief, or slow down your pace, or realize you have to start over — none of these symptoms means you can’t triumph over the cause.
When you begin to tap into your true Self — the one who lies still beneath the goings-on of the world — there is no more self-doubt. At your core, you know you can. You can because we all can.
Being human has always been about overcoming the odds. Part of being an overcomer is relaxing into the struggle and confronting the parts of you that are self-conscious about it. Do that and your self-awareness will soar.
Find your dumping ground
Back to my therapists’ chair, where I was sitting next to a big ole box of tissues. As I visualized a reenactment of the trigger noise and my body’s response, the tears dumped almost instantly. Then, my crying became an erratic, tortured version of kapalabati breath.
I started to forward fold in my chair, felt my shoulders slump. All that stale energy in my abdomen forced itself out my mouth. It was an ugly, well-deserved cry. And then (two, five minutes later?) it was over. As soon as I felt it leave, it was replaced with this:
Choose to see the beautiful in your life.
But I’m afraid that it will never go away…
Choose to see the beautiful in your life.
But what will other people think of me?
Choose to see the beautiful in your life!
When we shine light on our persistent inner dialogue — when we get right into the ugly dissatisfaction — we start to communicate with ourselves, not all those who may or may not be judging us. (Let’s be honest, you judge yourself more than others ever will.)
Permission granted to be Self-sensitive, to not be perfect and on occasion to need a dumping ground.
When you take off your self-consciousness blinders you can focus on the beautiful. It’s like a permanent Summer Solstice: the longest day of light in your inner year.
Nevertheless, welcome the pain, the discomfort, the untidiness in your life. If not for these things, you wouldn’t feel the bliss of them being gone.
Try it: Side Seated Wide Angle Pose, Parsva Upavistha Konasana
Who does a wide-legged pose and doesn’t feel vulnerable or judged? No matter how far apart your heels, this position is not one to worry about what you look like or what others think of you. It’s one in which to feel. And when you let go, it feels great.
- From seated, spread your legs wide. Place your fingertips behind you on the ground and use your arms to inch the pelvis forward a bit to further stretch the legs. Bring your arms to your sides and root down through the thighs, tops of the knees facing up. Flex your toes
- Inhale the arms up and grow long through the torso. Then, exhale and bend to the right, hooking your right hand to the inside of the right foot. You might have a slight or large bend in this elbow, depending on your side body flexibility. Reach your left arm up overhead. Let your seat grow heavy and even on the mat.
- Relax the tops of the shoulders down and lean the head back slightly, as if resting into a pillow. Begin to revolve the left ribs up toward the sky, allowing your right ribs to come forward. Breathe smoothly as you revolve your trunk on the exhales, continuing to anchor down and out through the legs.
- Stay for 10 deep breaths or one minute. Inhale your way back up to center, arms reaching tall. On the exhale settle into level hips on the mat. Repeat on the other side.