When you take a dance or strength class (or any class), you have to move from where you are now. If you try to do something you are not ready to do -- like use a 10lb. weight when you should be starting with 3lbs. -- you compensate in all kinds of ways and don’t really get the benefit of the exercise. At best, you’ll expend energy without making progress. You’ll be spinning your wheels. At worst, you could actually end up hurting yourself.
On the other hand, if you can accept where you are now, then your progression will be easy and you can enjoy the journey rather than “shoulding” all over yourself. (“I should be able to lift a heavier weight,” I should be able to leap higher,” etc.).
It’s the same in any aspect of life. Sometimes I think my feelings are just “wrong,” especially if I’m angry or insecure. These feelings are uncomfortable for me and I usually just deny or bury them altogether.
Invariably, though, I find that denial, pushing against something rather than allowing it, only causes the feelings to push back or rear up and bite me when I am not looking.
Denial causes me to compensate in all kinds of ways that are not healthy. Underneath my denial is guilt for having these feelings in the first place. Then it’s just a big old mess. I am spinning my wheels and my path gets harder.
If I can forgo this mental dance, I understand that anything I am feeling is “legitimate” because it is authentic. The particular emotions at issue may not be pretty, but they are real and should be treated as such. There are many places in me that need to grow, but I have to go from where I am now. I can pretend to make a moral, enlightened leap but if I am not truly there yet, I’m going to fall hard.
Accepting my feelings is an act of self-love. It’s like giving a home to a mangy old dog found unexpectedly on your doorstep. When I love and accept that dog just as he is, he can transform. And so can I. But we still had to start at mangy.
When our young children are feeling envy or fear, we accept it and let them know that these emotions are a normal part of life. We love them and let them know their feelings are natural and okay. Truly, it is how we choose to act in the face of these feelings that matters. Will we make the decision to be kind to others and ourselves or will we deny our truth and sweep it under the rug – where it only remains to be found later, bigger and uglier than before?
Treat yourself just as you would your beloved child or your dearest friend. Love yourself enough to accept your uncomfortable feelings and allow yourself to grow from where you are.
And enjoy the journey.
Photo by MaryEllen Hendricks