Tell me what do you love or admire about yourself?
I asked this question in all of my adaptive and traditional Yoga classes last week as we delved into the idea of Self-Love. The answers often are so sad when it comes to my students with brain injuries. You see these people have lost what most of us value and are having to rediscover the aspects of themself that they actually like. Most have lost their livelihood, their purpose, their families, their independence, their freedom to come and go, and oso much more. When they look in the mirror they often see the challenges and the impact of the injury so finding the qualities within can usually be really challenging. I also have enjoyed asking my group of students that are all over the age of 85 and living in assisted living. I am startled that so few of them can proclaim something that they love about themselves. Perhaps it is a generational thing where they didn’t spend as much time as younger people these days who seem consumed with the Self.
The answer seem to be so hard for them to find.
I ask the question anyway and the answer is usually that they are blank on what they love about themselves.
I keep asking, though.
On one particular day in a class that included a range of ages and abilities, I asked a woman living with a brain injury who is close to my age and is often very down on herself the question. When I asked her what she liked about herself her eyes dropped down to the ground and she quietly said, “nothing”. She was hunched over with her arms on her legs looking so hopeless and sad. This woman is so kind, so willing, so sweet and is so beautiful.
I knelt down so that I was in her eye gaze and asked again. And again, I got the same response.
I knew that I was about to open a beautiful can of worms and an opportunity to teach exactly what Rumi was saying.
I turned the question around. I asked this woman what she liked about me. She looked at me and easily said, “You are brave, and strong and so beautiful”.
We smiled at each other and I looked into her eyes.
My response was this—I am simply a reflection of you. What exists in me is also in you otherwise you would not recognize it. We are indeed a mirror reflection of each other.
She sat tall and said, “really?” Yes my sweet friend, really.
I learned this concept many years ago and try to always remember it, especially when I am with someone who feels that they are not enough or someone who struggles with identifying what makes them special. I ask them to think about someone they admire and what qualities do they see in them that they like? It is those qualities that also exist in ourselves.
Consider that. What you see in others exists in you. Kindness, integrity, compassion, love, bravery, beauty, honesty, humor, etc. If it was not part of you and familiar, you would not recognize it.
The tricky and often sticky part about this is that when we also see a quality within others that we find less appealing, it is because that too is familiar in us. When this happens to me I say, “ahhhhhh yes, there you are to remind me what I am here to work on”.
When we stumble through those ordinary days of self doubt and wondering what is really good about ourselves this can be an amazing concept to return to. When we feel burdened by life’s hardness and separate from the ideals in which the world has attempted to create, and we feel so less than, simply look into the eyes of someone you admire and know that the only way you can see those qualities is because they also exist in you.
It is familiar. It is a mirror reflection of yourself.
Follow me for more goodness!