Why do we care so much about what others think about us? In today’s social media-infused world, it has come to the point where we even care what strangers think about us. They’ve never heard us utter a word, and yet, we stress ourselves over their opinions, such as what they think of our tweets, postings, photos, or comments.
And that self-consciousness even carries over in the peaceful practice of yoga. I recently arrived early to a class and overheard someone’s story as I sat on my yoga mat. One of my fellow yogis recently took a more challenging class and strained her neck trying to “show off” (her words, not mine). And although I do not practice yoga to compete with anyone, I can relate a bit to her action. For instance, if I am doing a side pose, I would almost feel embarrassed if I could not hold my own next to my yogi neighbor (who I’m watching do it effortlessly as my leg trembles).
Yes, I am completely enamored by the peace of mind, clarity, and intention I receive from each and every yoga session, yet there is still that slight competitive streak (perhaps from my elementary school dodgeball days). I believe we all have it. Some are able to suppress it better than others. Some are even rid of it all together, but it was once there.
So, how do we control this urge to “show off” or care what others think of us?
First, I have always learned the most important factor in yoga is to be kind to my body. Listen to it and know your restrictions. I have also continually tried to practice to only care what I think of myself. It hasn’t been perfected (as of yet). However, I have come to the following conclusions. First, acknowledge the green-eyed monster does exist in us. We cannot help but envy others. They have something we aspire to. Be mindful of it.
If we feel a green-eyed twinge within us, we can acknowledge it is there, and recognize the beauty in that other person. However, we can also note that whomever we are admiring has worked hard (on perfecting that yoga pose, for example) and they, like the rest of us, have their own worries.
Everyone’s story is filled with good and bad. If we all tossed our problems in the middle of a room, chances are we would probably pick our own right back up after seeing the others.
Your path happened just the way it should have. It molded you to be who you are today – the perfect version of yourself. Practice being mindful of that, as well as the fact that you are blessed with many of your own positive characteristics. Go you!