I heard something a few months ago that has kept sneaking back into my thoughts as I continue to work with students who, in turn, are working through their own obstacles and challenges…I don’t remember where I heard it, which is so often the case when the universe offers up another grain of truth, but it was something to the tune of, “We marry at the level of our self-esteem.” So concisely expressed, with such weight and relevance to it…Obviously, what is being communicated is that we look for a mate, a partner, someone who will reflect back to us how we feel about ourselves at the time of our search. We are looking for solace and acceptance in the arms of another, someone who won’t push us or demean us into territories we’re not ready to delve into. I find this absolutely fascinating, because in most instances, I believe it to be true.
I believe that we are our own worst enemies, and that we unconsciously (and sometimes intentionally) go to great lengths to sabotage ourselves, pandering to the deeply rooted belief that we’re not worthy of that which is great, that which will elevate us to new heights and realities. We stand in our own way. And so if we haven’t yet tapped into our beauty, into that which has always been with us but which has been buried under years of defense mechanisms and insecurities, then we seek out that which is relatable, safe, non-threatening. We don’t limit this search solely to our partners, which is why I have been allowing the word “marry” from the quote to become the umbrella term for any connection or process of seeking out that we undertake.
I believe that if we don’t understand how capable we are, how the only real thing standing in the way of achieving everything we’ve ever dreamed of is our own fear, then we make agreements to the people around us, to the responsibilities we assume, and to the roles we play…agreements to settle for what is in front of us, that which requires little or no effort to attain or to maintain. We align ourselves with mediocrity. We resign ourselves to what we believe is our fate, not grasping the concept that what awaits us is a myriad of possibilities, much like the Choose Your Own Adventure books…different outcomes lie in wait as we attempt to make the best decisions for ourselves, and in keeping with the understanding that no one is ever one thing all the time, we don’t have one scenario waiting for us in life. What happens to and for us is a direct result of the decisions that we actively make using the resources available to us.
And so if we marry at the level of our self-esteem, then we also work in an environment at the level of our self-esteem. We foster friendships with people at the level of our self-esteem, and we afford or deprive ourselves the lifestyles we have at the level of our self-esteem. We take care of ourselves at the level of our self-esteem, and we treat others at the level of our self-esteem…and, ultimately, we allow them to treat us at the level of our self-esteem.
Last week I asked the students in one of my classes how yoga has changed their lives, and the general consensus was that it brought a sense of calm and peace to them, which translated to a boost in their self-esteem, which affected every other aspect of their lives. This is what I’m trying to convey with my work. If people come to practice yoga for purely physical reasons, great. And if they’re searching for something other than that, great. Ultimately, yoga is a system of tools that seems to give people the justification they need to let go of that which has stopped serving them, that which has morphed from an asset into a liability. That’s it. Really.
Need I say more?