Are you causing yourself harm?
Is the way you currently live your life causing you harm?
The other day I was writing in my journal and I had one of those ‘ah ha’ moments. I was exploring my own core values and the essence of what I wanted to bring into my business ethos and and one of the things I wrote down was…
‘I want my business and life’s work to be non harming to myself.’
I had never thought of my work in this way, but as the words flowed out I felt quite shocked at the revelation and it dawned on me that I had spent years creating a lifestyle that actually wasn’t particularly beneficial to my emotional wellbeing. In fact… it was the opposite of beneficial… it was causing me harm.
Introducing non violence
In my yoga studies, I resonate deeply with the practice of Ahimsa. It is something I bring into each and every one of my classes and translates to non violence, or non harming. This awareness of Ahimsa has definitely helped me speak to myself more kindly and compassionately, however, while I was committed to bringing non violence into my life both on and off the mat, I was missing a very vital part of the jigsaw.
I was still not TRULY listening to my heart and intuition’s whisperings when it came to my business - or as I prefer to call it - my life’s work. On the surface - the easier boxes were ticked - healthy eating, movement, meditation, pamper sessions, time to walk and be in nature… I was doing all this so therefore I had this self love thing nailed… right?
And thereby lies part of the problem. I was DOING alllll the things... but I was still BEING harmful to myself subconsciously in the process. Because I had turned the act of self love and kindness into a variation of my to do list. True Virgo style.
Body wisdom strikes again
Despite my teachings being very much focused on listening to our body, it appeared that i was still not listening intently enough. This became very evident last week when my body stopped whispering to me and decided to shout. It knew that the only way to stop me in my tracks was to make me feel so sick that I couldn’t even contemplate doing anything, especially not teaching yoga. Clever body!
I had to do the things that I feared the most. Let people down. Cancel professional plans. Show myself as ‘not having all my sh*t together’. Be vulnerable. Ask for support and understanding. Stop.
It made me realise how we can be doing all of the surface ‘self’ stuff… yet none of that matters if we are still inflicting suffering upon ourselves at a deeper level. At a subconscious level. Because that is a pattern and habit that has been so ingrained in me that it is outside of my own awareness. Until now.
I didn't even realise I was causing myself harm
Emotionally I have been extremely hard on myself over the past few years. Well.. probably most of my life actually… but particularly over the past few years.
In the process of 'rediscovering myself' I had to take a drastic salary drop which lead to a loss of independence and I had to go back to the basics of discovering who I really am as opposed to the person I had created to satisfy the world’s expectation of me. Let me tell you... that journey is a full time job in itself - let alone setting up a business to match!
I have emotionally beaten myself up over the processes I have been through in my work and personal life. Constantly calling myself fickle for changing my mind over what I truly want to do in my life’s work, relentlessly questioning my purpose and not trusting myself to actually allow the answers to come through. I filled the space and stillness I had created with tasks and chores which distracted me from the core essence of what the real work was. The unravel.
By doing this, I inflicted a huge amount of pressure on myself to be busy, to be ‘successful’, to be a perfect yoga teacher, to be a flawless coach. I created a life style and business based on ‘shoulds’.
It is really hard to resist the temptation to be swayed by the world’s external projections of what our life is supposed to look like. To go against the grain and decide that our days do not have to be driven by stress, and our mindset does not have to default to scarcity.
Time to BE the change
I have been emotionally self harming for decades, and I didn't even realise it. That is how serious this epidemic has become. It is a silent, yet deadly form of self harm.
I appreciate that this does not leave a visible mark on our skin - but it leaves a mark on our heart and soul. It leaves a mark on our mental health and it is a big part of the growing number of people experiencing burnout, loss of confidence, loss of self trust and self worth, and an inability to treat themselves with love or compassion.
I am writing these words because I want to highlight just how easy it is to subconsciously cause harm on ourselves. I have continuously worked on self love, and self like. My mindset is very much shifted in terms of how I speak to myself about the way I look and the way I move my body, yet I am still stuck in this damaging cycle of self destruction and harm. And unfortunately, I know that I am not the only one in this place.
Overflowing is the new ‘full’
The concept of overflowing was recently highlighted to me. The idea that in order to be giving fully and wholeheartedly to the people that we care about - whether in family situations, work life or friendships - we need to be overflowing. Not half full, not three quarters full and not even just full… but overflowing.
That means overflowing with love for ourselves before we can give love to others. Overflowing with energy so we can exert energy externally. Overflowing with gratitude to appreciate all of the lessons and challenges we face. Overflowing with kindness towards our own selves before we can be genuinely kind to others. Overflowing with joy and pleasure and things that light us up.
If you are not overflowing but you are still 'giving' - you are depleting yourself piece by piece. One little part of your being at a time. Each time you give - you empty your well and take away from your wholeness. And you are designed to be a whole human - a complete being.
To the outside it may look like I have changed a lot. And I have. I feel more myself than I have ever… BUT… the constant torrent of abuse I have given myself over the past decade has taken its toll and has left a deep wound that I now need to allow to heal.
To become aware. To allow myself time. To put these lessons into practice.
A few things to think about...
Are you practicing Ahimsa in all areas of your life? Is the way you are running your business or doing your life’s work actually draining you and causing you harm? Do you feel that you are not working ‘for yourself’ but solely for other people? If you want to delve deeper into these areas with me then please send me an email so we can keep the conversation going.
If you are creating a soulful business and want to join a community of likeminded individuals, come and join me in The Creative Soul Tribe here.