Sometimes you do everything right, and it’s still not enough.
It’s maddening. Like you can’t win no matter how hard you try. And it makes you want to punch people through the phone.
What’s fascinating, though, is that when you learn to move through the anger, behind it awaits liberation. Because once you realize that control is an illusion, once you accept that the outcome of most situations isn’t based on much effort you choose to exert, you can finally let go and let the joy carry you.
I meditate on this principle each time I practice yoga. Especially when I have an injury. Whether it’s a groin strain, carpel tunnel syndrome or lumbar pain, my brain gets angry at my body for being fragile and imperfect and unable to perform every posture in the series. Because that would inconsistent with my healthy self image. Too much cognitive dissonance. Surfacing one of my deepest fears, which is that I’m not as healthy as I think I am.
Of course, that’s just another ego delusion. The story I choose to believe about myself. And as I discovered in group therapy, the moment you start to feel bad about yourself, find the lie. That’s when I started surrendering to my pain. Accepting the reality of my body and freeing myself form the anxiety of perfection. Even if that meant skipping my favorite posture every day for three months.
And what I found was, you can actually accomplish more with the energy of acceptance than the energy of control. Keep in mind, however, that surrender is not resignation. You’re not waving a white flag and collapsing into complacency. You’re just relieving yourself the enormous burden of ruling the universe. Through acceptance, that engine runs out of gas.
And so, next time you fail to make headway in your endeavors, despite working hard and long and smart, allow yourself to feel the flush of rage in your face. But only for a short while. Feeling sorry for yourself wastes a lot of mental energy. For now, try moving through the anger to discover the freedom waiting on the other side.
In what situations do you have difficulty accepting yourself?
Scott Ginsberg is a writer, daily practitioner and work study volunteer at Bikram Yoga Park Slope.