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You can’t do any better (but you can feel better)

Saturday, March 9, 2013 by Marianne Elliott

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In the past week I’ve spoken to more than a dozen of my female friends about their current work, family and life situation. Two things struck me about all these conversations. Firstly, everyone is doing so much and secondly, no-one feels they are doing enough.

One of the women works in a government department where recent funding cuts resulted in many redundancies – including her husband – leaving the people who kept their jobs to work twice as hard. She had worked almost 100 hours in the previous week, and one night came out of a work meeting at 7pm to find five messages on her phone because her toddler was sick. She loves her work, and knows she is doing important work that has the potential to make a difference to the long-term health of the planet, but can’t do enough to get on top of things.

Another friend I spoke to this week also has a toddler and a pre-schooler as well as running her own retail and catering business. Although her business has grown significantly since she took it over six years ago, the market is tight right now, margins are low and some months she wonders whether she’ll make enough to pay all the bills. There is rarely anything left over, so help with the housework, massages and a gym membership are out of the question for now. She wonders what more she could be doing to bring business in the door, and wishes she could spend more time with her children, her husband and her friends.

I could tell ten more stories, and the themes would remain the same: women (and men) doing so much, yet feeling they are not doing enough. People wondering what more they need to do to make things better, to be a better mother, better businesswoman, better citizen, a better friend.

When I was living and working in Afghanistan I reached the point where I realized I would never be able to do enough. Not until I redefined what ‘enough’ meant to me. As long as I was trying to do enough to save the world, to prove I was a good person, or to earn someone else’s love or approval, I would always fall short. Because no matter how much I did, the most valuable contribution I had to make in the world, and the greatest gift I could give to the people I loved and wanted to serve, was not what I did, but who I was.

Be the change you want to see in the world

You’ve heard this before. You might even have adopted it as a mantra, or a life philosophy. You decided that since you wanted the world to be a kinder place, you would be a kinder person. But our culture of doing more (and more and more) is insidious and so you find yourself caught up again on the hamster wheel of your to-do list, never feeling like you’ve done enough. Worse, we’ve all be taught that in order to become a kinder person we have to improve ourselves, do better, do more.

Another thing I learned in Afghanistan is that when you’ve been raised in a culture obsessed with improving everything, it’s easy to turn even the practice of kindness into a self-improvement project. And even easier to feel you’ve failed at it.

Luckily, there is a way to get off the wheel.

Yoga is the place I return to – over and over again – to reconnect to who I am, no matter what I have or haven’t done. Yoga brings me back to my body, to what I’m feeling and experiencing right now, and in yoga it makes no difference whether I’ve written a best-selling book or made a million dollar. Yoga doesn’t care. Yoga only asks me to show up, to pay attention, and to have the courage to be honest. (Does it hurt? Then stop, no matter who is watching.)

Yoga helps me cultivate in myself the qualities I want to bring to the world: courage, compassion, clarity, awareness and the ability to really pay attention. Yoga saves me from the tyranny of ‘never enough’ and gives me the courage to accept to what is here now, who I am now. Yoga is my path back to trusting that I am enough.

Over the past three years, my 30 Days of Yoga courses have helped more than 1000 people find their own path from the tyranny of never doing enough, back to the trust and confidence that they already are enough

I went back and looked at my original questionnaire answers and it’s powerful to see the shift that’s taken place in the past month. I do feel much more grounded and have started tapping into my own deep inner guidance. This is huge. You’ve been a key part of a major transformation for me. My body and spirit thank you! ~ Liz

I want to help you develop a yoga practice that suits you, that you can do for free, in your own home (or hotel room, or airport waiting lounge), that will fit into your day no matter whether you have five minutes or fifty and that will give you the tools you need to keep doing such a great job of everything else.

Above all else, a yoga practice that will help you be kind to yourself. Because when you can meet yourself where you are – with kindness – you can meet the rest of the world with kindness too. And that’s really all the world needs you to do.

Here’s what I really want to say to you:

  • You are doing a great job and you don’t need to do any more. Really.
  • The greatest contribution you can make in the world – as a parent, a friend, a professional or a community member – is your presence.
  • You can cultivate the qualities of presence that will help you be the change you want to see in the world – courage, compassion, connection, awareness, attention – through a simple home yoga practice.
  • You don’t have to start today. But there will never be a better time to start. You can start exactly where you are now, with what you have now. The rest will come.

If you are ready to start (or restart) a home yoga practice – I’d love to help you.

Registration is currently open for three of my 30 Days of Yoga courses.

You can read more, and sign up, for these courses here:

Beginners 30 Days of Yoga

Standard 30 Days of Yoga

30 Days of Yoga for People Too Busy To Do Yoga

Let me know if you have any questions at all about yoga, about the courses or about getting off the hamster wheel of doing more, more more.

Love,

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One Response to "You can’t do any better (but you can feel better)"

  1. […] week I wrote about all the women I know who are working harder and harder and harder, and still feel they can never do, or be enough. I’ve been thinking about them all […]

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