‘As we journey inward, we reflect our light outward.’ – Baron Baptiste
I left London just over a month ago. Just before I left, a friend of mine who had known me for about a year told me he’d seen me improve physically since he’d met me. He didn’t tell me how he’d seen me change or let me know what was different about my body or walk, just that I’d got better. I was happy to hear that news – particularly since I didn’t ask for it – but I also realized that I no longer need that sort of validation from people.
I am a very insecure person and I used to need other people’s validation all the time. I relied on others for my sense of self and my strength. I depended on people’s approval of me and actively sought their approval, and much of my rehabilitation process has involved pleasing the professionals who work with me and being accountable to them. That’s what motivated me initially: trying to please everyone. I asked people if they saw me improving – particularly since I couldn’t feel or see it in my own body – and I felt motivated to keep working when anyone gave me positive feedback. For many years, I based my therapy on other people’s perceptions of me and needed their support to keep going.
My friend was kind to compliment and reassure me that I’d got better in the time we’d known each other, but I no longer feel that I need that feedback. I still need support to a certain extent, but other people’s opinions of how my body has changed or how much I have progressed are no longer key factors as to whether or not I will put the work in or whether or not I will succeed.
Since I’ve begun practicing yoga, the work I do no longer feels like an endless uphill battle or a fight to get better. I still work to get better, want to get better, and intend to get better, but I am not fighting through the process like I used to. Yoga has forced me to use the strength that I have rather than to try to gain strength that I don’t yet possess, and it has forced me to accept where I am in every present moment through the flow of movement. I try poses from which I would normally run or back down, I give challenging things more of a shot than I previously have, and I do my best to accept when I have both immensely satisfying classes and classes that reduce me to tears.
Now that I have done enough consistent yoga, I understand that it’s a process. It will never magically become easy, everything I will experience in classes will be different every time, and just because I have a particularly challenging class doesn’t mean I am not doing well or getting better. I don’t need anyone else’s support in order to continue my rehabilitative work or to believe that I can better myself. I’ve come to a place where the work is challenging but enjoyable, and the process is no one else’s but mine.