When I was younger I was often afraid to try new things.
I was scared that I wouldn’t be any good at them and that I’d risk humiliating myself...a risk I wasn’t confident enough to want to take.
So much of my self esteem was tied up in being good at the things I excelled at that I didn’t want to chance being ‘bad’ at other things.
And so I just stayed with the things I was really good at...and my world grew smaller as a result.
I was stuck in what’s called a ‘fixed mindset’. Overly concerned with what I could do ‘in the now’ rather than taking a step back to dream big.
Too focused on ‘achieving’ to pause and ask myself:
“What do I really WANT to do? And if I can’t do that thing YET, how can I work towards it?”.
When you’re stuck in a fixed mindset challenges can seem threatening...you run from difficulty to protect yourself. You’re subject to what psychologist Carol Dweck calls ‘the tyranny of the now’.
But if you can allow yourself to take on a ‘growth mindset ‘ then challenges start to be seen as something exciting, something that helps us to build abilities we don’t yet have.
This isn’t always easy in a culture that places a premium on achievement. In a culture in which failure is viewed as something negative and damaging...something shameful even.
But yoga and mindfulness can help us to recognise unhelpful patterns that limit our potential - and to find new, creative and compassionate ways of working with these patterns in order to grow.
To (badly) paraphrase one of the central lessons of the Bhagavad Gita - karma yoga is acting with right intention and effort; doing our best, but without attachment to the fruits of our actions (it’s definitely not cleaning yoga mats to get free classes...).
So these days I’m making a conscious effort to try new things - and to do them for the love of doing rather with the intention of being ‘good’ at them.
I’m also planning to try a few new approaches to what I offer in terms of teaching.
Obviously I very much hope they’ll work out...but if they don’t, I’m not going to give myself a hard time like I would have done in the past.
It have to say it feels very liberating.