Lately I’ve been pretty busy patting myself on the back for being willing to do things that scare me. And it’s not like I don’t deserve some kudos; in the recent past I legitimately have done a ton of things that terrify me (hello, blogging!). However …
It occurred to me yesterday that it’s one thing to take a deep breath and do something scary once, but it’s an entirely different thing to keep coming back again and again, working through the many layers of fear and then the other emotions that will arise. And I definitely haven’t been challenging myself to do the latter. It’s as if I’ve been saying:
Well, I did that scary thing once, so I’m good!
Yet it strikes me that within the process of coming back again and again — that is truly where the growth happens. Like yoga, it’s a practice, something you work at moment-to-moment, day-to-day. And along the way, you will likely have many opportunities to take one step forward (like this) and then two steps backward (see below), but so long as you keep plugging away at it, slowly but surely things are bound to shift.
By viewing growth as a “once and done” sort of proposition, I’ve been really shortchanging myself. I’ve been missing out on some potentially huge growth opportunities by avoiding scary repeat performances! Yesterday I caught a glimpse of the fact that there is so much knowledge to be gained from doing “it” (whatever it might be for you) again and again.
So, what the heck happened yesterday?
Well, yesterday was the start of our third teacher training weekend and the day when Michelle (our fabulous teacher) decided we were ready to tackle the “speaking your truth” exercise again (aka, the one that made me want to quit teacher training the first time we did it).
As soon as Michelle started talking at the beginning of class, my heart sank … I knew exactly where this was headed and I did NOT like it. In my head (not verbally, like we were supposed to) it went something like this:
Fuck. I’m not ready to do this again.
I don’t have to do it again, I’ve already done it.
I’m just not going to do it. She can’t make me.
You idiot, she doesn’t care if you do it … you care if you do it, you should make yourself do it again.
Fuck. I still don’t want to.
I already did it once, and even if I did a crappy job at it, that should totally be enough.
Can I please just disappear right now?
And it went on like that for the 30 or so minutes we were doing the exercise. Sure, I made a few half-assed attempts to whisper out loud, but I spent the bulk of our time nearly-successfully trying to convince myself that I didn’t “have” to do this exercise because I had already managed to make myself do it once.
But seriously that’s just silly. The mere fact that I’ve “done it scared” once, does not somehow excuse me from doing it again! And while it is true that growth is not a matter of having to do everything that scares us, “I’ve done it once” simply cannot become an acceptable excuse for not trying to do it again.
So, with that in mind, I’m adopting an amendment to my motto: instead of “do it scared,” I’ll be reminding myself to “do it scared, again and again.”