I am participating in a yoga teacher training and a few weeks ago we started to study the manomaya kosha; the mind. The parts of ourselves that include thoughts, emotions, beliefs, and images. We went through a practice that included observing our thoughts and we were asked to begin noticing a habitual running of sentences through our mind. As we were guided through the practice I found myself internally saying ‘I don’t know how to do this, I’m never going to learn all of this’ asking,”am I doing this correctly?” and similar variations.
What I know is that our thoughts are often snapshots of our underlying core beliefs; beliefs that feel imbedded into who we are and often consciously or unconsciously guide our emotions or behaviors. For most of us, these beliefs fall into a “I am not _____ enough” statement. Maybe you fill in the blank with words like worthy, strong, attractive, skinny, nice, competent, loving, masculine, successful, wealthy, good, or popular. Regardless of the adjective, the beliefs turn into feelings of lack, a general feeling of not being enough.
During this practice, I learned of a sentence that quietly runs in the back of mind, a belief that often masks itself in feelings of fear of failure, unsureness, and unease about my level of competency. When I introspected a little bit deeper, “I am not smart enough” came to mind. I went back to kindergarten where I saw my 6 year old self standing in front of my sweet teacher, feeling panicked and unsure about whether I would be able to successfully count to one hundred. I went back to 3rd grade when I failed a cursive handwriting assignment after writing all of my “f’s” backwards. Or in 4th grade when I was pulled out of math time while learning division because I wasn’t catching on as quickly as the other students. I recall being surrounded by wonderful friends who were more intelligent, bright, and quicker learners than myself as a seventh grader in junior high. And I can remember how embarassed I felt in high school after failing the AP calculus exam and learning that all of my friends had passed. I can hear the kind people in my life saying things that were internalized in a way that was perhaps unintended; “you have that lowest ACT score out of the group, but we are glad you are here,” and “we just wanted to spend extra time with you since it was taking you longer than everyone else.” The statements were harmless, but over time the words somehow blended together into an internal statement of “I am not smart enough.” This transpired into actions of excessive study, obsessive focus on success, and feelings of failure. It resulted in an undertone of feeling inadequate and sometimes placing extreme pressure on myself with expectations of scholastic perfection. This meant that I cried when I got less than an “A” on an assignment and felt panicked after reading the first question on a test. I felt unsure of my innate ability to learn and of the likelihood that I would be able to succeed. I didn’t know this about myself until recently.
I share these words with you because the homes that are our bodies exist on foundations of beliefs, experiences, and learnings. I am not _______ enough exists within us all. It is worth taking a look inside of yourself, asking where your insecurities may lay, and getting to know where those little sparks exist. I say this because perhaps you’ll find they are not true, that they no longer serve you, or that you might come to know where they came from. And maybe from this place of knowing, you might begin to see yourself in a more complete way. You might find that your life experiences have other information to show you.
And with a little work, a more balanced thought might arise after allowing all of the other thoughts to settle. One that says I am competent, able to learn, and intelligent. One that says I am smart, strong, capable, and deserving. One that says I am enough.
I share all of this with you in hopes that you’ll start to notice the thoughts that cloud your mind, that you’ll start to hear the stories that you tell yourself, and that you’ll start to shake and loosen your grip on the beliefs that that feel real but are not true. In hopes that you’ll allow some room for love and self-compassion in. In hopes that you’ll heal.
In hopes that you begin to deeply know that you are not broken.