By Jacqueline Wyman
There would be a point in yoga class that I’d dread every time. When the teacher called out ‘inversions’ I felt like I wanted to run for the hills so fast that my eyes would not have to view my peers gracefully gliding into headstands and handstands. I pretty much wrote off ever being able to do an inversion because of fear. I feared failure; I feared looking silly; I feared snapping my neck. Until Yoga Teacher Training this past Fall, I never even genuinely tried an inversion. I made up every excuse to avoid doing an inversion: “I am not as experienced as them.” “I will practice inversions at home.” Or my personal favorite,
“I grew up fat so if I could not do handstands/headstands as a child I won’t be able to now.”
The stories above, or more frankly the lies I told myself, were not based in truth. The real truth was that my fear of failure had paralyzed me, but I could not see the paralysis because I believed in the lies I told myself. When my Trainers encouraged me to unpack the baggage of lies I had been telling myself I slowly started to gain courage. This courage made me not want to cut myself short on the outside. Learning how to invert myself and gaining the physical strength to do so was no longer a barrier but a bridge that allowed me to become person I wanted to be.
Throughout the process I began to acknowledge how the fear of failure also dictated other areas of my life.
I told myself: “I am a failure at dating because I was single; I am a failure at careers because I chose a different path than I originally planned after undergrad; I am a failure at health because I have cellulite and no six pack.” My fear of failure blinded me and I began to believe these self-destructive lies, which eventually paralyzed me through feelings of shame, guilt and sadness. However, not taking the chance to face my fears and possibly fail is also not putting myself in the position to possibly succeed.
Recognizing and verbalizing the lies I told myself are the first steps to overcome fear and free myself to be whom I am called to be.
It is not a simple task by any means. It is a process that I must commit to daily to recognize the difference between believing lies I tell myself and being my authentic self. What has helped me work through the process is treating my daily life as a yoga practice. Some yoga practices, I feel strong and flow like water from pose to pose and other days the tension in my hips or my lack of breath will make my practice flow to a staccato beat. In turn, some days in life I make time for myself and allow myself to be vulnerable enough to fail or succeed. Other days I indulge the lies I tell myself.
Whether I feel great or not, I recognize that each class and each day is another attempt to practice.
If there are things I need to improve upon that’s okay because tomorrow is a new day, a new attempt to practice. Additionally, I remind myself I am committed to being my authentic self. My commitment to being my authentic self will mean that at times I may have to accept failure. But failure will not paralyze me because if I allow it to paralyze me I will not honor my commitment to myself to glorify God by being a human person fully alive.
Face your fears and you will find peace.
Face your fears and you will find power.
Face your fears and you will find God.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Among many things Jacqueline is a Yoga instructor based out of Cleveland, Ohio.