We Can Do Better
I feel blessed to have Groove in my life.
You’re probably wondering what Grove is. It’s the yoga studio where I practice in Bend, Oregon. The teachers are amazing individuals who incorporate yoga with awesome music. Each instructor has her or his specialty – both with how they teach as well as what they play. And no matter which class I attend, it’s always an incredible experience. However, I must admit that there is one instructor that I particularly jive with. I’ve even attended one of her yoga retreats. Not only is she extremely accomplished in her knowledge of yoga, but she also possesses the ability to help her students transition to a deeper place when they are on their mats. She guides them to dig within, consider more, and ultimately take the next step to become who they are meant to be. And she does this with an abundance of grace, ease, humility, and love.
As always, one of last week’s classes began with an inspirational message. Her lead in was “We can do better.” But unlike what you might expect, she did not go in the direction of self-improvement, achievement, or personal growth. Instead she put a different spin on this short talk… she dove into how we can do better by loving and forgiving ourselves. Sounds beautiful, right? In fact, it makes a ton of sense. We know that if we are going to make the world a better place we must first start with our self, right? This philosophy sounds logical. But do we actually do this? Do we treat ourselves kindly, can we forgive our past mistakes, and are we able to accept ourselves for who we are - perfectly imperfect?
I thought about her questions throughout the entire class. Then, like what often happens, as soon as I was out of the door I forgot about her wise words. But later this week I was searching for a podcast to pass time while on the spin bike. I saw one of Oprah’s Super Soul Conversation podcasts that I hadn’t heard. So I hit “play” and carefully listened. Oprah begins by sharing what Maya Angelou once said to her - “When you know better, you do better.” The essence of this message is that if you don’t realize that what you are doing really isn’t the best thing for you or those around you then you shouldn’t judge yourself so harshly because you didn’t know. But once you understand that past actions were not in your best interest, then you have the power to choose differently – do better – because you are now aware.
While listening to Oprah’s podcast I remembered my yoga teacher’s words, and I saw how both of these fabulous women were pretty much on the same page. We owe it to ourselves to let go of the blame, forgive, and surrender to the past… then we can do better going forward. Now that we know, we have the ability to be so much more than we ever thought possible.
This message really hit home. I’ve spent way too much of my life beating myself up for past decisions, acts, and behaviors. In my search to be “perfect” I criticized myself for anything less than. But that did absolutely no good. In fact, quite the opposite – it made me feel less than what I thought I should be. But once I accepted that we are all “perfectly imperfect,” then a huge weight suddenly lifted from my shoulders. I no longer blamed my small self for being human. Instead, I learned to accept that I’ve made wise choices as well as decisions that were not in my best interest - but all of that is in the past.
We don’t need to constantly replay those aspects of our lives that we would change if we were granted a “do over.” Those are past stories that we drag behind us wherever we go. However, these tales do us no good. While our past made us who we are today, it also provided experiences to help us grow, taught us necessary lessons, and presented opportunities for us to take risks and expand our thinking. Constantly regurgitating what we once did does not serve us at all. We are no longer the person we were at twenty, thirty, or perhaps forty – we are spiritual beings having a human experience – evolving with each new day.
Many people have difficulty letting go of the past. I once read that while humans constantly rehash the past and criticize themselves for previous actions, dogs feel badly momentarily but then let it go. They don’t wallow in misery because they had an accident on the carpet, nor do they feel constant guilt because they killed a baby bunny. When it’s done and over, it’s done and over. Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could learn from man’s best friend?
Today ask yourself if you can do better – especially now that you know better. Are you able to forgive yourself, let go of what happened, and focus on different ways instead of being weighed down by what was? While it can be extremely difficult to let go of all of our stories, perhaps start with one or two and stop repeating them to yourself. Release them to the Universe and see what happens. Perhaps that is who you once were, but today, you are a beautiful being having a human experience on planet Earth. So have fun, enjoy, love, laugh, and live – in the present – in the now.