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Racing to Yoga to Relax

By November 17, 2015July 12th, 2016Happy to Heal

Years ago, I was in a meeting with one of my employees and a consultant we were considering hiring for a project. I had been tasked with fixing an underperforming function, and the consultant seemed to have the roadmap to salvation that we desperately desired. The meeting was so going well that we were going to run past work hours.

That meant I’d miss my yoga class, which in those days was how I de-stressed and stayed sane. The small flicker of sadness was quickly replaced with an iron-willed knowingness that I’d stay to finish the conversation. So, rather than scheduling time the next day to continue, I kept going.

I turned to my employee and let her know she could leave if she needed to, but based on how electric the energy in the room was, I expected she’d be as committed to staying as I was. And then she said, ‘thank you, if I don’t leave now, I’ll be late for yoga.”

I silently judged her. For not being committed. For prioritizing self first and work second. And a bunch of other judgmental thoughts that somehow justified my decision to stay. Years later this sticks in my mind as a small (and embarrassing) example how I defined my worth by my work.

Hi, I’m Molly and I’m a Work-alcoholic

We all have our ways of dealing with our perceived inadequacies. For years, I thought I was kind of a jack-of-all-trades, master of nothing when it came to managing my insecurities, self-doubts, and self worth issues. Eating a little too much. Drinking a little too much. Shopping a little too much. Working a little too much. But never completely overdoing it in one specific area.

Except, unbeknownst to me for many years, I did overdue it in one area. (Egos are slippery like that!). Only after I started having stress-related health issues, and doing some major reflection, could I clearly see that my primary coping mechanism was working my *ss off…not just working a little too much.

If I didn’t feel good enough inside, I worked. I never felt like the smartest person, but I learned if I worked hard enough, and fast enough, then I’d be good enough. It boosted my confidence and eased my anxiety. It brought me external attention, which satisfied what I couldn’t provide internally. I felt good enough. I had purpose. So this rushed, frenetic work-harder-and-faster, take-on-too-much-at-once, do-it-all-now energy stuck with me.

Speeding to Yoga to Relax

Over time I added healthy activities into my life, like meditation and yoga, which helped reduce my anxiety. BUT, I didn’t integrate the teachings of those beautiful practices into my life. They were like pretty new tools in the chill-the-eff-out-toolbox that only got touched during the yoga class or the meditation. They didn’t become a practice off the mat.

I even managed to turn nourishing activities like yoga and eating into stressful events…speeding to yoga to relax. Literally waiting to the last possible second to leave work to get to yoga, only to stress on the highway about whether or not I’d make it. Gulping down food while tearing through emails, creating stress for my digestive system.

As you can imagine, over time, my body had enough. The severe lack of energy and the other symptoms I felt were due to stress-related dis-ease, and required rest and relaxation to heal. Naturally, I resisted. might take six months for others to heal, but I got this much faster because that’s how I roll. My ego was once again wrong. My level of resistance was no match for the Universe’s persistence. There were lessons to be learned and rest to be had.

My Ego Is Not My Amigo

I learned years ago that the ego is located in the same energy center (solar plexus) as our self-confidence, self-worth and self-power. One way we can experience an imbalance in that energy center is by being overly confident, controlling, power hungry…a classic egomaniac. The other way we can experience an imbalance is by feeling unworthy, lacking self-confidence, feeling anxious, and questioning ourselves.

That’s how I experienced my ego. Feeling small and unworthy. Questioning if I was good enough. Doubting myself. Putting work first and me second. Working to feel worthy. Ignoring the years of warning signs from my body.

While much of that healed during my physical healing process, I realize old insecurities will pop up. I expect them now. I welcome them, giving my ego credit. I thank them for trying to look out for me. And I let them know I don’t need their help anymore. This process releases the ego’s grip on me. And it doesn’t bring me to my knees when they appear.

I’ve accepted that judgment is the tool of the ego. When we judge others we judge ourselves. In order to see something in someone, it must be inside of us. (By the way, that’s super painful for the ego to admit.) When I catch myself judging (which sometimes takes a while and sometimes is quick), I check myself.

So today, if I were once again sitting at that table with the consultant and the employee, I’d like to think I’d end the conversation so we could both go to yoga. (Maybe that’s just my ego talking. LOL) What I know for sure is that I do not race to yoga anymore. I’ve learned that the ride there can be relaxing as the class, if I allow it to be, regardless of the traffic or the time. And I feel good knowing that this one small behavior is one giant step towards healing a lifelong pattern.