Author’s Note: Please Like and Share if you like what you hear, otherwise the Complaints department is at the bottom under the label ‘Comments’ 😉 See you next Wednesday!
“Today, before we start, I want you all to close your eyes and visualize a pose that you feel an aversion to,” my yoga instructor tells us from her seat at the front of the studio. “This can be anything that makes you tense up at the thought of it, makes you want to get up off the mat and run away. Hold the image and that feeling for now in your head.”
I close my eyes, this shouldn’t be too hard I think. I’ve only recently started my yoga practice back up again after years on hiatus, and there are certainly plenty of cringe worthy poses that come to the top of my list. But as my eyes close, the image I see instead is me sitting cross legged at my computer, on the inhale lifting right hand to power button, and on the exhale staring blankly at my open screen. Sit here for a few breathes. Then on the inhale reach across, left hand this time to power button, and on the exhale push back away from the computer, all the way back away from my responsibilities, until I am far enough that the computer is no longer in sight. A textbook case of aversion right here – I am going to ace this class, I think.
Why do I suddenly feel an aversion to writing? Why do I want to run away – am running away – from sitting down to do the work, work that I chose and (in general) stand solidly behind that choice? Only a month ago I was in the habit, completing work deadlines to myself on time, feeling like I was accomplishing some small part of what I’d set myself out to do. But then after taking a short break from the work, the work decided it wanted to take a break from me. Since then, the last few weeks have amounted to no shortage of cajoling, or flowers, or hands on heart with boombox blaring – à la a John Hughes’ movie – declarations of love. But to no avail. Nothing I did was working to win work back to me.
After the initial painful stages of any breakup – first growing angry, then quickly despondent – had passed, a thought finally occurred to me. Maybe it’s not the poor, put-upon work’s fault, maybe it’s me? Had I created this Resistance monster, the one holding me back, in myself? Could it be? As the light dawns in my head, my arch nemesis suddenly steps forth from the shadows and sees me, a smile playing on her lips reminiscent of a huntress closing in on her prey.
“So it is you, Ego. Alas, so we meet again.”
There it is. Therein lies the core to my everything, the root of my problems, the heart of the matter. It is Ego who is having her say, getting her way, and if she keeps this up, I can guarantee that her poor rival, Creativity, will find itself slowly poisoned to death. It is Ego who is sowing liberally her seeds of doubt, making me wonder constantly if the material I am creating is good enough. It is also the hot breath of Ego’s voice in my ear, passing along her judgement that no, of course not, what you are putting down is trash, how could it not be?
Such negativity is hard to resist though we may try to deny it, but deep down negative things are our safety net, the cozy blanket you can wrap around yourself because in the end its message is the one most familiar. We hate it yet we listen to it, and worst of all, we even believe it. This is how I let Ego back in my door, let her stay and crash on the couch, even though the last time she came over she trashed the place and left me the bill to clean it all up. Ego is a dangerous guest, for even while she’s burning cigarette butts into all of your furniture she does it with a winning smile, and convinces you that, yes of course, it is all in your best interest.
I hate Ego; Ego is a bitch. With her in the lead I don’t write because I’m afraid it won’t be any good; I will look bad, I will feel stupid. Ego makes it all about me and my feelings, convinces me to have a fixed mindset. She thins my skin and heats my blood at the slightest provocation until I am a walking exclamation point, stiff and rigid, ready to gesticulate! at any given moment. It is no longer about the art, no longer about the flow of just being, of a being just creating. It is all about me.
No wonder I can’t get back into the driver’s seat, my head is too big for it. I’m too puffed up with self-importance to be able to reach the steering wheel, there’s no way I can take the lead. So I revert to aversion. Start with the motions of going to work then slowly back away – eventually I don’t even pretend anymore. I’ll start tomorrow, or, I’ll do it tonight become the familiar tunes I sing to myself, soft lullabies of denial that are still soothing enough to lull me to sleep, to complacency. I am no longer trying, because to try means to open myself up to failure, and in Ego’s books that is not an okay possibility.
“In the fixed mindset when you fail; you’re a failure. In the growth mindset when you fail; you’re learning.” – Carol Dweck
“Okay everybody, let’s close our eyes once more and let’s all come back to center. I want you to remember the feeling we identified at the beginning, the aversion you once felt.”
I close my eyes – I’m back in front of my computer, with Ego sitting beside me on the floor.
“Now I want you to take the good, positive energy that you’ve generated through your practice today, and I want you to focus on this feeling while still picturing the image of what causes you aversion. Replace the tension and the negativity, visualize yourself approaching the pose with a light and open heart.”
I see myself opening up the computer once more, only this time I let one phrase repeat over and again in my head, not particularly loudly but it is enough to drown out the stories my Ego is already wanting to tell me – just write. I see myself starting, first one finger on the keyboard then a whole hand. Black marks start appearing on white canvass. My Ego is still talking – she has no plans to stop – and I just write.