In case you've been waiting in suspense, I failed my audition to be a kickboxing instructor. The specific feedback was, "technique was weak, no power, movement was not authentic to combat and timing was shaky." I've spent the last week feeling like a weak reject loser, but today I'm feeling better. All day every day I tell others, "Trust the process of life! When bad things happen, it's a solution!" Though I haven't really become a match to the solution yet, I'm trying to take my own advice. Everything happens for a reason, and life has bigger and better things in store for me. Here are some ideas that got me through the week.
1. Practice not doing.
I'm a striver. I set goals, I try, I make effort. I've found the harder I try, the more I push what I want away from me. This week, practice not trying. See if you can let what you want come to you. Take zero action, even when you think you should. Unless wild horses couldn't stop you, chill. See if it is any more satisfying than working your ass off for minimal results.
2. The things we love we have to learn to leave alone.
This idea comes from Change Your Thoughts - Change Your Life: Living the Wisdom of the Tao. This book is so good we had to check it out from the library twice. I can BARELY comprehend how to put this advice into practice, because it is so natural to want to take action involving the things you love. But think of a plant: there is no amount of coaxing or effort you can take to make it grow faster. Sure, you can provide the right conditions, but worrying about a natural process is a waste of time. Think of your life and the things you love as flowers. Just leave them alone to blossom in peace.
3. Let go of any ideas you have about controlling anything or anyone, including yourself.
This is another idea from Change Your Thoughts - Change Your Life: Living the Wisdom of the Tao. Give up trying to control myself?! What music to my ears! My whole life has been a losing battle with self control. Don't eat that! Don't text that person! Don't say that online! CONTROL YOURSELF, JESSICA! Fuck that. No one has any control. Let's embrace it.
4. Try this mantra: "I'm a winner!"
Once I identified that yes, I did actually feel like a loser, I knew I had to switch to the other side of the wave. Even though saying "I'm a winner" feels a little forced, as soon as I thought it, I was able to see evidence that I was successful. The day after I heard news of my epic audition fail, I won $300 in restaurant gift cards. See, I got first place in something!
5. Practice not caring.
Don't you hate it when you care about a specific outcome? You want someone to text you, or you want to get that job you interviewed for, or you want a project to go a certain way. The more attached to the outcome you are, the less likely you are to get it. Try releasing your attachment to the outcome. Attempt to truly not care if that person texts you--because you are your own reason for feeling good. The goal is to feel good regardless of your circumstances, so that no matter what happens, you still have your unshakeable sense of peace and well being.
6. Be conscious of every breath.
Keeping your attention on your breath in every moment keeps your attention on your connection to source. It keeps you from becoming over-identified with your thoughts and losing conscious awareness. When I had this realization as I was riding my bike to the gym, I got kind of pissed. It seems like SO MUCH WORK to be conscious all the time. But then I remembered it's like any good habit--once you get in the flow of it, it almost does itself. It's just starting that's hard. Whatever method you use to maintain presence (i.e., not lost in your thoughts), use it as often as you can--with the goal being always.
7. There's a time for everything, including what you're experiencing today.
One of the techniques Wayne Dyer suggests for freeing yourself from your demanding ego is to practice saying, "There's a time for this." When you hear bad news, think, "There's a time to hear bad news. There's also a time for good news." When you tell yourself there is a time for the bad, you open yourself up to the good. And when something good happens, and you say, "There is a time for this good thing to happen," it also helps you appreciate it more, because you bring awareness to the temporary nature of reality. That good thing will also go away. Celebrate that there is a time for anything at all, because that is the miracle of being human.
8. Be as still as possible.
One of my favorite ideas is, "Be still and know." When you are still, you can become aware of the present moment. Still your body, focus your eyes on a single point, quiet your mind. When you are still, you can know the meaning of life. You can know your source. You may not be able to comprehend it or talk about it, but you can know "it". Whenever life gets you down, be still. The same circumstances getting you down will reveal themselves to be your greatest solution.
Last week I auditioned to be a kickboxing instructor. Preparing for this event was beyond stressful. I have complete confidence in my mind and creativity, and have no problem performing at traditional job interviews. But at this audition, I was putting my physical body up for judgement. Was I slim enough? Did I kick my leg at the right angle? Should I be smiling, or snarling? Despite my worries, I ended up having a great time, and it was way easier than I thought it would be. While I haven't yet heard if I made it or not, I am so proud of myself for trying. Here are a few things that helped me believe in myself, relax and do my best.
1. Put on your sunglasses.
My friends and I were relaxing on a patch of grass on campus. A man came up to us and asked if he could freestyle for us. He requested a word from each of us (twilight, button, and exorcist), then started rapping with them. When his flow stuttered, he paused to put on his sunglasses. "When my eyes are closed, I can see a picture painted by your words. Then the words just flow." Sunglasses are my new favorite creative tool!
2. Try this mantra: "I live this moment fully as it is without needing it to be different."
I found this idea in How to Wake Up: A Buddhist-Inspired Guide to Navigating Joy and Sorrow. Last week, in the days leading up to my audition, an old knee injury started acting up. I spent a lot of time making peace with what was, and this mantra really helped me put things in perspective.
3. Have a knee injury? Check your ego.
According to Louise Hay, knee injuries are related to pride and ego. I had been stressed about how people were going to perceive me at my audition, and knew the injury was directly related to my thoughts about myself. Louise suggests the mantra, "I am flexible and flowing," which helped me release attachment to a specific outcome. Low and behold, the instant my audition was over, my knee felt 100% better.
4. Try this mantra: "I love miracles!"
This past weekend was my friend Emily's birthday, and I really wanted to spend some time with her. But our schedules just weren't going to allow it. I had friends in town, and she was busy with her own celebrations. I let my desire go and trusted I would get to see her eventually. Sunday afternoon, as Kelly and I walked our bikes down Barton Springs Road, we saw Emily and two other friends walking towards us. I SCREAMED with delight. The universe brought us together with zero effort on our part. It was a miracle! Wanting to plant a seed from the experience to grow more like it, I thought, "I love miracles!" The more I placed my focus on the thought, the more miracles I started seeing everywhere.
5. Just have fun!
The day before my audition, I got a Facebook message from one of my instructors at the gym. She wished me luck, and reminded me, "Just have fun!" I remembered that fun was the whole reason I wanted to try out in the first place. Remembering to be light and playful helped me enjoy the experience no matter what the outcome.
6. Try this mantra: "I've decided to feel good about that. It'll work itself out."
So my knee was hurting, I was nervous about transportation to the audition, and my anxiety levels were through the roof. Just in the nick of time, I got a pingback from Jesslyn Littlepage, reminding me of this mantra. Every time I thought of my audition, I said to myself, "I've decided to feel good about my audition. It'll work itself out." Kelly told me to make it into a game. "The less you think about it, the better," she said. And what do you know, it worked itself out.
Neale Donald Walsch suggests, "Choose a State of Being (Happy, Compassionate, Wise, Caring, Creative, Considerate, Forgiving, etc) in advance of each approaching moment." When you set intentions before entering a segment of your life, you're on the lookout for evidence that your intentions are manifesting. What you focus on, expands.
Art by Stephen Cade
I grew up with parents who loved me unconditionally. However, I can't say that they approve of me or my actions unconditionally.
When I was in high school I didn't give a flying fuck about their approval. I knew they loved me, but they were really strict. I rebelled as hard as I could. I always approved of myself because I was having, pursuing and being fun.
Once I made it through a couple rough years of undergrad, I started wanting to get along with my parents better. It was great, but I realize now I started approving of my desires and actions less and less. I was using their approval scale--grades, weight, job. In high school I didn't care about those things at all.
I've been practicing self love using mantras like, "Jessica I love and accept you exactly the way you are," and it's felt a little off. Deep down, I know I love myself. I think I'm pretty great, and when I step back to watch the story of my life, I think it's a pretty cool story. I do love myself.
But then I read You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay. The first affirmation she suggests using is "I approve of myself." I didn't quite get it until this morning, when I heard myself thinking, "I just want some approval!"
Immediately I started saying "I approve of myself" over and over. I began to feel better and better. When I said, "Jessica I love and accept you exactly the way you are," I felt guilty. Like, "I love you and accept you even though you are bad in the following ways." But when I say, "I approve of myself," I feel like I own my desires and am proud of myself. "I love myself the way I am" feels like I am flawed. "I approve of myself" feels like I'm kicking ass and don't need anyone else's approval.
What is your approval-to-love ratio? Do you find yourself feeling fundamentally unloved, or just needing a little approval? Give "I approve of myself" a shot and see if it makes more sense than focusing on the notion of self love.