Self-doubt is one of the most insidious things there is that will get in the way of your success. As a yoga teacher in a very busy industry (read: lots of people teaching yoga) it’s easy to fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others and letting self-doubt get in the way of taking chances, being yourself and standing up for what you believe in. There are many times I have thoughts to share on social media and I hesitate thinking: “What would someone think? Am I taking a risk by sharing my opinion on this?” Then there are times I see things that others are doing and I think, “Why am I not doing that? Should I be doing that? ” These are all versions of self-doubt and they all act to do the same thing: prevent us from being ourselves in an authentic way.
There is a beautiful saying by Anais Nin that goes, “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” This is truly the essence of what we’re talking about here. If we don’t take a risk, we are in pain. We feel stunted, held back and restrained. I see this when I teach kids yoga and the adults standing by try to supervise their practice by shouting, “Do it this way!” “Bend your knee!” instead of letting the kids express themselves authentically. Now, in these cases, the adults don’t mean any harm but it’s a good example of what happens when we’re held back from true expression. You see the look of confusion on the child’s face as if to say, “Do it right? I was doing it right!”
As we get older, things are tougher. We have more at risk or so it seems. We worry more about what others think, right or wrong. We look for others’ approval, and sometimes need it in order to move forward professionally. In many cases, our livelihood is tied to our personal style of expression: nothing is more true in this case than a yoga teacher. The expression of yoga: how it’s done, how it’s presented, is in large part what distinguishes one teacher from another. To hold back on how you want to express yourself and what you want to focus on in your teaching out of fear and doubt is the same thing as letting someone tell you how to express yourself in a yoga pose. It’s just not right but yet we do it all the time.
I find that one of the hardest things to do in my business and teaching is to stay in my own lane. I know my skills as a teacher and they are a unique set of skills, just like any other teacher out there has a unique set of skills. When I am totally in the zone in my teaching and business, I am fully committed to staying in my own lane. I am unable to be deterred by what others are doing and it makes no difference to me. I can appreciate it and admire it but it makes no difference to me and my path because I am fully committed to being myself.
But when I am in a more doubtful, fearful place, I am more affected by what others are doing. I doubt my path, doubt my business decisions and am fearful about my future. I worry more about money, I start to spend my time straying off topic and looking at other avenues as a way to create new opportunities, even if these things make no sense. I look outside myself for answers and look for others to guide me in the right direction.
All of this is natural because we are human. As yoga teachers, we are surrounded by lots of external stimuli and perceived pressure to be a certain way, do things a particular way and take a certain path in order to be successful. However, the more we follow those pathways, the more we are doomed to fail.
On the Grammy’s the other night, singer Sam Smith said (I’m paraphrasing here), upon accepting his first award that night, ” I used to try to be like other people, thinking that would lead me to success but it was only after being true to myself that I was able to find it.” He might not have even used the word “success” but the point he was making was that as soon as he stopped trying to be like someone else and owned his true expression, THAT was when things really shifted for him.
At the end of the day, regardless of the job we have, the life we lead, the people we surround ourselves with or our financial status, if we don’t live in an authentic way, we will always feel held back. We will always feel unsatisfied and unfulfilled. The act of “remaining tight in the bud” will result in our spirit withering inside of us and we’ll just be walking through life without focus or direction.
Take the risk. Be yourself. Worry less about what others’ think. Share from your heart. Find your own path and be relentless in staying on it, although be open to new ideas. Do things out of a desire to express yourself authentically rather than getting a particular reaction from people.
This is really a diary entry to myself but I am happy to share it with you here. Peace.