As you know I’m in the middle of writing a book about stories & there’s a chapter about how the stories we tell ourselves can keep us stuck or set us free.
So you’d like to think I’d be on top of this, wouldn’t you?
Well I’m sorry to disappoint you, but no.
I recently tripped myself up big time, telling myself that I couldn’t and wouldn’t do something, which of course was the exact thing I needed to do.
A few months ago I started practising yoga and I’ve discovered that I love Yin most of all. Now Yin is different from other yoga, you’re mostly sitting or lying down, it’s meditative and you hold the asanas (seats) for several minutes. As a result I am more peaceful, present and still, I’ve let a lot of things go and mostly I am really connecting to my body.
There’s one asana in particular that I have massive resistance to and it’s called Saddle, (well there’s more than one, anything that involves flinging my legs into the air is also out of bounds).
A few weeks ago I arrive late to a class and the only space is right at the front. Everyone is into Saddle and my conversation with the teacher (Emma) goes something like this:
Me: NO (firmly), that’s Ok, I’ll just lie here.
Then at the end of class:
Emma: I can time you in Saddle if you like.
Me: NO (even more firmly than before) that’s fine thanks; if I never do Saddle again it will be too soon.
Emma; ok, say it like you mean it!
You get the picture.
I decide I’d like to have 1-1 lessons with Emma and at least once in our discussions I say (probably also quite firmly), ‘Please don’t make me do too much Saddle.’
So of course, like any great teacher, in the first session what do we do? Yes you’ve got it Saddle. Well half Saddle. I open myself up further and need less support than ever before. And week two, yes you’ve got it full Saddle this time, and again even support.
What’s the message in this?
It’s all about the story.
Looking back now I see that the story I made up was something like this: ‘All’ the other students are a decade or three younger than me and a lot thinner and bendier. In Saddle ‘no-one else’ has bolsters and, no matter how hard I try I’ll never make any progress.
So I tell myself that ‘I CAN’T DO IT‘ and I WON’T TRY‘.
I was using language of impossibility
I was using language of impossibility, I can’t and won’t which was keeping both my mind and body in a static, unyielding place where progress was in fact impossible.
Some other phrases I could have used were, it’s impossible, I don’t choose to, don’t intend to, am unable to, am not or won’t try.
And I changed to the language of possibility
By creating a safe space where I felt comfortable being vulnerable and open, and okay taking the brick away without me noticing, Emma encouraged me to change the story.
So now I am telling myself that I CAN do this, and I WANT to see how far I can go.
As you can see I am now using ‘I will’ and ‘I can’. Other words I could have used are I able to, I choose to, intend to, I am or it’s possible.
Here’s what changed.
Of course it’s still a story, but before it was static and unyielding and now it’s one of movement, achievement and attainment.
My body has changed too, initially the muscles in my legs were screaming at me to pull back and my back resisted big time. Now they are more relaxed thus enabling me to bend further.
Yes it was hard physically and it was also amazingly freeing and liberating.
And that’s not all, here’s the incredible gift
As I’m lying there, stretched out, open and vulnerable, the wonderful Emma tells me more about Saddle and what she says underlines just why it’s important to me.
It turns out that the meaning of Saddle is Hero, thinking of a Hero (or in this case Heroine)’s journey, the Heroine acts, goes through challenges which she tries to solve easily, and in the end the only way she can get to where she wants to be, is by changing herself.
Which has been my journey over the past few weeks.
Lying there, I am exposed, laying my heart and vulnerability bare for all to see. And this takes courage, trust, power and strength.
It’s teaching me that connecting to my heart connects me to my deepest meaning and purpose, it’s encouraging me to be fearless and to realise my potential.
And I am determined to do so.
I will also conquer it. One day in the (maybe distant) future I will meet it without bolster or block.
I may not be smiling like the lovely Emma here, but I will do it.
What about you?
I know you’ll be telling yourself many stories and some of these will be in the realm of impossible. Perhaps one of the biggest is that, because you’re childless you can’t have a fulfilling life. And I can tell you that is completely not true. I know this because I’m having that life myself and all the Inspirational Story tellers are having that life too. So I have a few questions for you. Think about an area in your life where you feel stuck and ask yourself these questions:
- What story am I telling myself?
- Am I using the language of impossible?
- Are there other things I’m telling myself that I can’t do?
- How could I let go of these stories?
- Which stories could I change to a probable or possible?
What gifts could come to me if I do the thing I think I cannot do?
Over to you
Did this story resonate with you and what gifts did you receive when you changed the story?
Please leave a comment to help others, (you can use a different name).
You can find out more about Emma Peel Yoga here.
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