It's OK to not be OK

Art by Stephanie Weiss:

Art by Stephanie Weiss:

Most of the people I follow online are so strong and always seem to have it together. But that's because they post and spread a positive message, and in doing so often portray the best side of themselves. I'm guilty of this too. I mean, that's what we want, right? Positivity! 

But the reality is we are all human. And we all fall down. It's OK to not be OK sometimes.

When I'm teaching balancing postures in yoga, I congratulate my students for falling. Why? Because it means they've found their edge, and now that they know where that edge is, they can grow and do better next time. I can read their internal dialogue from their facial expressions: they're calling themselves a failure and beating themselves up. So I remind them to slowly get back into the pose without judgement, and that this is a playful time — a time to find our edges and discover things about our bodies and minds ... I remind them that it's OK to fall. 

Yoga is the dance between the light and the dark within you. The light is what brings you back to the mat, and the darkness is what you uncover there. Don’t be afraid of this darkness; these are only shadows and though you’ll have to walk down some pretty dark alleys, remember you are grounded in the light, and that light will set you free.
— Amy Jirsa

I recently fell down (off the mat).

And I stayed there for a bit ... which is OK. I mean, it's not ideal obviously. But it's alright. Generally things end up alright. 

The old me would have pretended everything was OK on the outside, but inside I would be beating myself up. 

I'm such a failure. 

To be fair, I had moments like that. And I'm not beating myself up for having those moments, either. (So meta.) It's OK to fall down and to sit there. It's OK to be weak ... sometimes. If we were super strong and put together all the time, we wouldn't be human.

If you follow me on Facebook and Instagram, you might think I'm always strong. But I'm not. And I don't think anybody else you follow online is ALWAYS strong, either. 

In yoga, there are two things I've learned about falling — on and off the mat.

  1. We must have compassion. What would we tell a friend who fell? Who faced this same situation? We must treat ourselves with that same kindness.
  2. It's important to understand why we fall. Were we not grounded? Distracted? Pushing ourselves too far? Off the mat, it's also important to understand why we fall. Were we unhappy? Why? 

Once we understand it, we can grow from it. We can better ourselves and make changes to help ensure we won't fall again. 

This is logical. It's logical to understand a situation and to grow from it. But it's hard to do. Especially when we fall hard and are overwhelmed. 

When my problems seem large, I like to remind myself how small I am. I go outside and look up at the sky, which never fails to make me realize that in this world, my problems are tiny. 

This will pass.

I fell, and I stayed there for a minute. But that's OK. I needed a minute on my ass so I could really experience and analyze the fall ... and grow from it.

For a moment it felt catastrophic. But in the grand scheme of things, my problems are small. The world keeps turning.