Discipline and Doubt

I don’t know if we are always consciously aware of it, but we make our own rules in this life, and we live by them every day.

Rules like: I have to get up at 6am.  I have to be in the shower at 6:45.  I have to be out of the house by 7:35 in order to be on time.  I have to be asleep by 11:30 or else I won’t be rested enough tomorrow.  I can’t leave dirty dishes in the sink. I can’t wear black socks with sneakers. I can’t go out of the house without make-up on.   I can only drink alcohol on the weekends. I can’t eat any food after 8:00 pm.  No wearing shoes in the house. That hand towel is only for guests. No cake unless it’s a birthday. These are not my rules, (not by a long shot) just examples of some rules.

I know I have them.  Rules for my behavior, rules for my schedule, rules I try to impose on my family. We don’t watch TV or go on the computer until homework is done.  We don’t have a snack unless we’ve eaten dinner.  We don’t say those words in this house.

A few weeks ago, I made a conscious decision to make a New Rule for myself.   I made this rule after a conversation with a teacher who told me that,  now that I was certified, the yoga jobs would just start coming.   I told myself that any time a yoga job comes up, if my schedule is clear, I must say YESI MUST.  I said “This is a rule, and it is not to be broken”.  And then I waited.

The very next evening I was taking a yoga class, and the instructor asked me if I was finished with my Teacher Training. I told her I was.  And then she asked me if I could Sub for her the following week.  I said “I have to say yes. It’s my new rule”.  The very next night!  Did I mention that?  So, the next week I was off to teach my first class outside of our familiar yoga studio.

When the day arrived, I was sick to my stomach. I actually thought I was going to vomit. I sat outside of the Karate School in my car, feeling very ill. I thought; Why did I say yes to this?  Why did I make this rule?   I had a brief fleeting thought that I could just drive away, and then call from my cell phone and tell them I had car trouble.   Crazy, I know, but I said it was brief and fleeting. I acknowledged it and let it slip away.

But the dread and the nausea were still with me.  I closed my eyes and breathed deeply for a few minutes. Knowing that regulating my breath would regulate my thoughts, and bring back my sanity.  When my yogi-friend Janine texted me that she was on her way to take the class, I felt a sense of relief. I knew that she would be an anchor in the room for me, to keep me from drifting off into a sea of self-doubt in the middle of teaching class.

I had studied for this. I had worked for this.  I had even taught classes already at our studio.  What was operating in me that was making me anxious in a negative way instead of simply nervous with anticipation?

Of course, the class went well.  Except for a music issue (which I seem to have often, and now have come to expect) I think it was a great experience.

About a week later, I received a phone call from Kurt, who teaches Lunchtime classes that I have been attending.  He was offered an amazing new full time job and was wondering if I would like to take over his noon classes.  I said  “I have to say Yes”.   I am going to start teaching those classes next week.  But I was even starting to dread that decision.  Second guessing myself?

Then yesterday I got a call with an offer to sub a class this morning. I said “I have to say Yes”.  And once again, I was on my way.  On the ride there I realized it was the first time I was in rush hour traffic to get to a job in over 8 years.  It was strange.  There was good music on the radio and I had plenty of time to get there.  And then it happened.  I caught a thought in my head, and held onto it for a second.  It was “Why did I say yes to this?”

I decided not to answer that thought, but to ask it some questions instead.  Where did you come from? Why are you here again?  Don’t you remember that you are doing this because you love it? And you feel amazing after sharing yoga with people for an hour?   It wasn’t happy with that line of questioning, I guess, because it disappeared as it soon as it was challenged.  This time.

That one sneaky little thought, that critic, that self-doubt, whatever we want to call it, is the reason for my New Rule.  That one little thought can undermine everything.   If I didn’t tell myself that I had to say yes to every opportunity- I might let them go by.  I might say “No I don’t think I can”, or “Let me check my schedule and get back to you later”, or “Maybe you can offer it to someone else who needs it more than I do”…

I know me.  If I don’t make a self-imposed rule that I have to do at least one load of laundry a day, my family will have no clean clothes.  If I don’t make it a rule that I can’t eat ice cream in bed at night, I will be 180 pounds again. If I don’t make it a rule that I write at least one blog post a week months may go by.

I need some rules. And I need some discipline. Self discipline. If only it were as easily accessible as self-doubt.

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