Within the world of yoga, words of self-hatred are prevalent. Seems contradictory, right? Isn't yoga about self-love and acceptance, spirituality, and honoring our connection to something greater than ourselves? Yes, it is! But with the light comes the dark, and sometimes the darkness can become pervasive.
I hear it all the time… I’m not strong enough, I'm fat, I'm too skinny, my body defies me, I hate myself. I am always amazed by the casual nature in which people make such powerfully negative statements. It's as if we've become desensitized to words of hatred. When hate speech is directed inward, it has been accepted as normal; sometimes even praised as powerful and brave! Is it? I’m not so sure.
Negativity directed at ourselves is just as damaging as hateful words projected on someone else; there is no difference. We can rationalize the use of negative verbiage until we're blue in the face. However, hate is still hate, regardless of where it’s pointed. And there’s nothing powerful or brave about it.
I'm not saying that we need to always feel amazing about ourselves-that isn't realistic. But what’s the harm in focusing on the positive rather than the negative? Instead of fixating on our body size, what if we fixated on the size of our hearts and their infinite capacity to love? Rather than feeling weakness in asana, what if we marveled at the strength it takes to simply show up to the yoga mat? How about replacing self-deprecation with self-love? Maybe that's overly simplifying a complex issue, but at least it's a starting point.
My blog post last week (Yoga Hurt Me) was about taking responsibility for our yoga practice. Similarly, we must choose to take responsibility for the words we use when talking about ourselves. Owning our derogatory self-perceptions doesn’t make them acceptable… It makes us weak! Life is hard enough. Let’s not make it harder by talking crap about our thighs or our character.
If you have a negative perception of yourself, it can feel awkward and uncomfortable to use words of kindness and acceptance. That’s ok! With time, the discomfort will dissipate. If you continue to practice self-acceptance the way you practice yoga, you’ll soon realize that they’re one and the same. Real bravery and real yoga is loving yourself, no matter what.
I am beautiful. I am strong. My body supports me. I love myself. Try that on for size! If it doesn’t resonate immediately, give it time. Love ALWAYS wins.