This is a story of not only one woman taking things personally, but TWO women taking things personally. This experience transformed how I choose to interact with people and it has absolutely changed my life. It was one of those A-HA moments that impacted all of my relationships in a good, positive, and healthy way.
I moved to a small town in New Hampshire in 2018 and started teaching at a local yoga studio instructing a few classes a week. I was getting to know all the practitioners at the studio and they were getting to know me. Classes were picking up and everything was going great. I really liked my new yoga studio and the small town vibe. It was completely different from the big cities of Los Angeles and Huntington Beach.
One evening, I taught a beautiful Yin Yoga sequence. That night just so happened to be only women in attendance and I had all of these super inspiring and empowering things to say about filling your cup and practicing self-care and being there for those we love. All of those good, warm, tingly feeling inspiring and affirming statements made me feel so good after teaching that class. It was one of those classes where I left feeling like I was contributed something meaningful and valuable to the world and I really connected with those women. Two days later when I went back to the studio for class the owner informed me there was an email from one of the women who attended that class. The owner let me read the email and I couldn't believe what I was reading. Every positive thing I walked away with from that yoga class quickly drained out of me. My pulse started to quicken and my heart raced. I was crushed. It was my first negative review. I had to teach right after reading that terrible email and I was greatly affected by those scathing words. I allowed one woman's experience of my yoga class affect my self-esteem and I even questioned my ability to teach after just ONE bad review. I know her experience wasn't the experience of everyone in that room that night. I had to toughen up or be eaten alive by people's opinions. This woman took these kind, sincere words from my heart and took them personally. She felt that what I was saying was insensitive, when from my perspective and intent was to remind women of their important roles and how we need to take care of ourselves and sometimes that means leaving dishes in the sink. She took that to a whole new level of insult. Anyway. She took my words personally. And then I took her words personally. What a beautiful yogic lesson to land in my lap at the right time.
My relationship suffered with the owner and I eventually left the studio. I learned an incredibly valuable lesson in not taking things personally. It later occured to me that this woman was struggling with something and took it out on me. She took my words as a personal attack when it was friendly reminder to practice self-care. I also learned that I don't need to be everyone's cup of tea. Some people will like me, others won't. I don't give a flying f*ck anymore. I am me. Happily and unapologetically. I am not for everyone.
Later that year, I read the Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz for the first time. I speak about this book frequently while teaching yoga and leading meditations. It is one of those books that really allows you to recognize all the ways in which we harm ourselves and others with our words, actions, and thoughts. Now, I know when people are being unkind or rude, I know they are suffering in their minds and it has NOTHING to do with me. It's all them. And on the flipside of the coin, when I behave like a total beast, it's me; I'm having some kind of war in my mind and I am struggling. So when I see that happen, I send that person love and compassion. Metta. I know not to take other's words so personally. I have a healthy self-esteem and confidence now to understand people are looking at life through their own lens. And what they see sometimes isn't my reality.
If you haven't learned the lesson of not taking things personally, my friend, it's time. If you walk around feeling constantly attacked (like so many out there) perhaps you are taking everything personally. It's not all about you. We are all the main star in our own movies and no one is more important than the star. But remember, you aren't the star in everyone's movie! People do things for themselves. They don't necessarily do things to hurt you intentionally. For example, if you aren't invited to go someplace with a group of people, instead of thinking they are excluding you, perhaps think there could be a number of reasons as to why you weren't invited. And if you really want to know why you weren't invited, just ask instead of making assumptions; which is the Third Agreement in the Four Agreements. Another very valuable lesson in life; don't make assumptions.
All in all. I am grateful for my experience. It has been so helpful on this journey in life. I tend not to care what people think about me any longer. I am a saint and perhaps a villain in some people's stories. I'm okay with that. I know who I am and I know my heart is pure, as are my intentions. I love sharing stories because that is how we connect. Our experiences in life shape who we are and then we can share that story for the benefit of others. I hope my story has inspired you to think twice before taking another person's words or actions personally.
Your Humble Yoga Teacher/Health Coach