It's been said that yoga is a practice. Yet I get frustrated the first time when I can't be at the advanced level.
When I start a new job, I want to already be the subject expert. Not because I think I know everything. I don't even expect that I'll know it all.. I just want to know the big picture and how things fit together, and the scope of what I don't know. ...so, I pretty much want to know it all. ;)
When I make mistakes, I've been very hard on myself in the past. I've been brutal sometimes. But I'm getting better. I expect a lot from myself.
And that expectation makes it easier to quit if I don't live up to my expectations. Rather than suffer through the humiliation of not living up to my potential, I have chosen to avoid it altogether.
That's how I avoided consistent strength training for over 4 years, even after I knew better. Even after I thought I WANTED to do it. Even after I said I would, time and again. It was hard, confusing.. I made it harder by believing I didn't know what to do. I had small efforts, even some success - did 200 squats on one program, worked up to 100 wall-push-ups. But it wasn't rewarding fast enough, I held back, not wanting to hurt myself.
But in my CrossFit class, twice weekly, I fail again and again. I hold a plank until my arm will not hold me up any more. I do more burpees than I possibly can, even when it feels like I'm crawling at the end and not doing them very well, my face hot and lobster-red with stray hair plastered to it. I focus on my counting instead of how I might look even though I weigh more than anyone else in the class, because the bigger guys quit a few months ago.
And my friend saved me from quitting with the simple phrase "Good job." Even if I was struggling, he'd yell out that encouragement from across the room. I RAILED against it. First with frustrated denial, outright rejection.
I thought about all of the ways I wasn't doing what *I* classified as a "good job". I'd want to get mad, but have to save my energy for my physical effort. Eventually, I couldn't afford to get mad. And I started nodding, or trying to acknowledge it aloud, even if I didn't have the breath (it sounded like "Ughf").
Then I noticed that he said it when I was struggling. It confused me until I realized that it also took me out of any negative thoughts I was building for not performing like a super athlete, and I'd try again.
I learned to be a little easier on myself. I learned to accept that I was doing a good job. And by slowing down my own expectations, I learned that I really was doing a good job.
In order for my class to be as effective as possible, it needs to be more challenging than I can handle. It will ALwAYs be that challenging, not because I'm terrible or "suck", but increasing the difficulty to be slightly ahead of my ability builds my body to handle more and more, and become more efficient.
So I've redefined my "good job" to include good effort. Continuous effort, the kind that drives me toward my goals, is my objective, not being the super-performing athlete.
And yet, that is exactly what makes me able to do super-athlete things, the things I felt were impossible before. I thought I was strong before, but I keep getting stronger.
And more confident.
And self assured, knowing that even if I can't do this right this very second, I will one day. I will work up to it. There is nothing wrong with that. How perfect is that?