How often do you look in the mirror and say something kind to yourself? How often do you look in the mirror and criticize something, or a many things, about yourself? The likelihood is that you spend more time criticizing yourself, then showing yourself love.
In the Yoga Sutra, the book that provides the philosophical guidelines in yoga, we embrace the concept of Ahimsa. Simply put, ahimsa means do no harm in word, action, or thought. Seems easy enough, until you realize that it includes how you talk to yourself. (If you haven’t started doing yoga at home, here are some tips to get started…https://gimpygirlsguide.com/5-secrets-to-create-a-blissful-and-accessible-home-yoga-practice/ )
We All Have Something
The truth is that every person on this earth has struggles. Some have physical issues, some mental, and some emotional. I always say if you don’t know what you have, you may be an ass, and that is a far worse affliction than mine.
But at our core, we are all the same, born to love and be loved. Our differences are what make us interesting, and what help us to open our hearts. Being vulnerable and sharing our issues with others allows us to connect, to see each other and to allow others to see us.
My First Aha Moment
Before I was diagnosed with Charcot-Marie-Toothe, I thought I was just clumsy. I didn’t know that I had foot drop which made it easier for me to walk in high heels than flats. As the degeneration progressed, I wasn’t able to to wear the heels, and my “funny walk” became more obvious to everyone.
So, much like women learn to apply make up to cover “flaws”, I learned how to hide my walk in different ways. I bought shoes based more on how “normal” I looked walking in them than on how comfortable they were for me. I wore floor length maxi dresses not just to hide the walk, but to hide the thinning calves. For years I avoided tight leggings. They showed my disability. People with CMT are said to have upside-down Champaign bottle legs, normal thighs with teeny, tiny calves. I was adept at finding ways to fit in as someone without a physical disability, so I didn’t seem different.
One day I was walking down a hallway with my then boyfriend. As I turned back to say something, I saw his eyes looking down. I was horrified. I timidly asked if he was watching my legs walk funny. I’m not sure what freaked him out more, that I thought he was judging my walk, or that he had to admit he was watching my bum swing back and forth as I walked. Turns out that what I called my “funny walk” because of my legs, was more of a sexy walk because of what it did to my bum.
That’s the point, the things that you judge about yourself, the things that make you different, are really the things that others love about you.
The Choice to Love Yourself is a Gift
I wish I could say that was the ultimate turning point, but with a degenerative disorder, it feels like every time I find a place of acceptance, I need to readjust. The latest point of change is that now, there might be some places that I need a cane. Accepting that, has already brought positives that I didn’t see coming. I’m able to wear more fun shoes because of the stability a cane provides. And, I feel stable in more places than I did before, which gives me more FREEDOM!
As a yoga studio owner for a decade, I saw what my acceptance and genuine love for myself did for those who practiced with us. My need to hold a bar to stand on one leg, gave them freedom to ask for help to find their way. If I continued to hide my issues, some of my yoga clients might not have found their own empowerment. They felt free to practice in a space with no judgment, regardless of size, race, ethnicity, sexuality, and physical ability.
Wear the shoes you love that don’t hide your walk, the clothes that don’t hide the shape of your legs, and the smile that shows your heart! I learned to embrace ME, exactly as I am. I learned to marvel in my uniqueness, whatever that may mean.
And that’s the point, to love and be loved. When you learn to love yourself exactly as you are, you help others learn to love themselves, exactly as they are. It’s a gift that you give yourself and that is immediately shared to the world. You being authentically you is the gift the world needs, and it all starts with learning to love yourself!