In my roles as a Mental Health Professional, a Yoga Therapist, and a Yoga Teacher Trainer, I am frequently cuing others to increase their awareness. I coach things like noticing sensations in the body, the feeling of breathing, and thoughts that are floating or flooding into the mind. Throughout this process, I am also encouraging the effort to become aware without getting caught up in judging or labeling what is found. It is a practice of simply noticing in order to be better prepared to respond rather than react, thus directing how the story goes.
I frequently refer to Brene’ Brown and her powerful work in growing courage, connection, and compassion. She is a master storyteller and she recognizes the effectiveness of painting a picture so that we can understand on a deeper level. In my teaching, coaching, and counseling this week, I have been using her image of The Arena as a metaphor for the places in our lives where we show up in bravery to act in alignment with our values and who we want to be. This can be a big, life-altering situation, but more often than not, this is how we show up in our lives everyday; the hard work of choosing to be our authentic selves.
When we are in the arena, awareness is of utmost importance. We must recognize that there will be many voices that we can hear as we are in the battle of showing up for ourselves to be seen. Being aware of who is showing up to see the fight will help prepare us to more effectively respond when we need to.
As we flow through the moments of living in alignment our values, honoring who we truly are, standing for what we believe, and putting ourselves/our ideas/our work out there for others to see, we must be aware of the audience.
There will be people watching us and throwing out judgment and criticism who have never stepped foot in the arena themselves. They will point out how we are doing it wrong and give lots of advice on how we should be doing it. These opinions come from no experience and typically a safe distance from the actual work we are doing. Kind of like coaching from cheap seats or dropping criticism on social media. But, we must also recognize that these voices often rise up from within our own minds.
There will also be people that we may not even realize are watching us until they voice their assumptions about us and make it clear that they were betting against us from the beginning because we do not look, think, have, or believe what they do. In many ways, these folks support the “Us vs Them” way of thinking and can often influence others to support their opinions. These are the guys who are expecting us to fail, are closed off to changing their view, and have made their minds up about us based on stereotypes and fear.
We will also have some critics watching and picking apart our every move. Critics can share information that will help us to grow and this is why we give their opinions such weight. The problem is that we often give them so much power that they train us into a mindset of comparison, scarcity and shame. These voices can point out all of the ways in which we are not enough and can also sneak in and switch sides after telling us that they are showing up as our support section. And again, this role is often filled in our own minds.
The support section is where we must fill the seats with people who are empathic and compassionate. Those who will show up for us and remind us that we are not alone. We must also work to do this for ourselves and to show up in the support section for others.
Once we are aware of these roles, we can be better prepared for how they show up when we are putting ourselves out there. We can ignore the advice from those who have no experience, live in our values to overcome stereotypes, and take the constructive criticism that will help us to grow while leaving the comments that are shameful and worth-centered. We can also recognize to whom we should go to for support. Some people will never be able to show up in our support section. When we are aware of this, we can find those who can give us the support we need and also return the favor when needed.
If we are not aware, we are at the mercy of the story writing itself. Once our awareness grows, we can make the choice to respond- or not- and then move forward as the person we want to be, writing how the story ends. We can better show up and fight for what we believe.
This week, start to notice who is showing up in your arena. Focus on the support section and be sure to fill it before the games begin.
I will be doing the work right along with you.
Chat again soon,