“Now, can you close your eyes?” my favorite yoga instructor asks. My arms shake as I hold the pose. Sweat slides down my hairline. I close my eyes and notice the heated studio even smells hot today. I want to give up. Collapse onto my mat. Curl into child’s pose.
We are only 20 minutes into the hour-long class.
“Can you trust you’ll be fine even when it’s tough? Even when you’re in the dark?” her gentle voice drifts through the speakers. My arms ache. My legs burn. I keep my eyes closed and hear the heavy breathing of my classmates. At least I’m not the only one struggling.
“When we can’t see others, we stop comparing ourselves to them,” she adds. “When we’re in the dark, we have to trust we’ll find our way by feel.”
She emphasizes feel. Feeeeel.
“Can you do that? Feel this challenge, but also your strength?” She pauses. “Perhaps we can apply this same idea to our lives off the yoga mat. Outside of class.” She pauses again, then gently repeats, “Perhaps.”
The music changes. We release from the pose. Thankfully, the new movements are gentle and flowing. I’m glad. Holding one position that long agitated me. Her words—combined with my discomfort—wiggled something loose. With my eyes closed, stuff bubbled up I haven’t wanted to admit.
Recently, gratitude’s long-time nemesis “If Only” dropped into my life for a visit. I bet you’ve met this crafty little character. It’s the one who fabricates stories about the grass being greener everywhere else. The one who predicts everything would be just fine if Only you had that car, that home, that job, that life, that body, that income, or whatever you’d use to fill in the blank. I’m ashamed to think of the time I’ve wasted “If Onlying” my life.
This time, however, my gooiest, stickiest version of “If Only” arrived. The one that points fingers at everyone, except—of course—me. The one who blames others for things I don’t want to confront. “If only (my boss/my friend/ my spouse) did such and such, then I wouldn’t feel so (fill in the blank).”
It happened so easily, I didn’t realize I’d been sucked down the drama-filled blame drain.
I’ve been here before. I know tossing my keys to “If Only,” means I’ll be driving in circles, travelling the same track, around and around, like a dog chasing its tail. I know blame never solves anything. And yet it’s an easy slide. Afterall, if I’m blaming someone else, then I don’t need to take responsibility for my part in a situation.
The yoga instructor’s words planted seeds that afternoon. Sometimes I’m ready for a message like that, and sometimes I’m not. This time I was. Holding a difficult pose with closed eyes presented another possibility. Can I feel my strength when I’m challenged? Trust I’ll find my way even if I can’t see ahead? Or will I blame someone else for my discomfort?
I needed that quiet, uncomfortable moment to realize I’d allowed blame to chauffeur me for a bit. How about you? What can you do to get back in the driver’s seat when you’ve let an “if only” take control?