Self worth and relationships

Ever find yourself looking to someone else – maybe a love interest – to validate you? Find that your sense of self is deeply tied to how much attention they pay you? Feel buoyed when they notice you and crushed when they seem to lose interest? We’ve all been there. It sucks. It’s exhausting, it’s damaging, and it’s got a lot to do with our sense of self worth. 

When we get rejected, treated poorly, or someone blows hot and cold in a relationship with us, we often become stuck and fixated on that person. We become convinced that we’re in love and we try over and over again to prove ourselves, to show the objects of our affection that we are worthy of their love and attention.

We often don’t recognize that the reason someone isn’t interested in us may have absolutely nothing to do with us at all. We tend to internalize the rejection that it must be because we’ve been seen, evaluated and judged as not good enough and that they are no longer interested.

When this happens, our interest in this person can turn into a fevered obsession and we can go to great lengths to get them to notice us. We may engage in shape shifting behaviours where we stop being ourselves and try to turn into whatever we think they might like best. We will jump through hoop after hoop hoping to demonstrate just how special and unique we are, so that they will change their minds about us.

We don’t focus on whether or not this is a good situation for us. If it’s going to make us happy or that our needs and wants are even being met. All we’re focusing on is this feeling that they don’t want us when we should be focusing on whether we do (or don’t) actually want them, because first and foremost a healthy relationship must have two people that actually want to be in it (and have you ever stopped to wonder that the chances are if you actually had them, you probably wouldn’t want them anyway?)

When we look to others to show us our worth, they are always going to fall short, and so are we. Primarily, because it’s no one else’s job to give us our self-esteem – that’s up to us. Secondly, people are mostly self-interested: they don’t care about how you feel about you – the fact that you are jumping through hoops and treating them like they are the greatest thing since macadamia nut butter (I bant) is a huge ego boost for them, and you gaining self-respect changes the dynamics of the relationship. 

Here’s where it gets weird and can really mess with your brain: when they notice that you have stopped jumping, it doesn’t serve them and they don’t want that, so you may well find that they will deliberately or inadvertently behave in a manner that keeps you stuck and fixated on them.
When we have low self-esteem we have become so comfortable with our own negative thoughts and beliefs about ourselves that we will actually seek out people and situations that confirm those beliefs. It’s the devil we know and it feels familiar and like home. We have become so used to the idea that love equals pain and that what we are calling love is actually us seeking validation and begging to have someone show us our worth.

Could it be that if someone healthy did show up in our lives that was interested in us and was offering us the relationship that we claim we want, there’s a chance we would run like hell, because it goes against everything that we believe about ourselves and we would feel incredibly uncomfortable? And that instead we inadvertently seek out people that evoke those feelings of unworthiness in us? 

The problem is when someone can’t make up their mind about us, the price we pay, trying to convince them – or ourselves – that we’re good enough, is our self-esteem. The mere fact that we are going to all this effort proves to them that we actually aren’t worthy, because if we were, we would know our own worth and we would’ve told them to take a hike long ago.

When you engage with a fence sitter, or continue in a relationship with someone that treats you poorly, you will find that there is always another obstacle, another reason, why they can’t give you the relationship you want or the respect you deserve. You pay the price and the payoff for you is that you get to continue to confirm to yourself that you aren’t good enough. You will end up feeling used and like you are just someone’s option for a rainy day.

It becomes a never ending cycle and you may go from relationship to relationship and find yourself in the same situation, with the same guy, who just happens to have a different face.

It’s taken me years – literally decades – of hearing the theory and of trying to put into practice the belief that I alone determine my worth, that I deserve more than just crumbs of someone’s attention and that only when I treat myself in a loving, respectful way, others may start to follow my lead – although I hasten to add that that’s a nice by-product, not the reason. The reason is my quality of life, my sense of self, my mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing and my continued long term recovery from addiction and childhood trauma. 

It has been, and sometimes continues to be, SO DAMN HARD to change the way that I feel about me, but it’s only since the shift came that I slowly stopped seeking validation and relationships from unwilling sources. 

Social media is a minefield for anyone with fragile self esteem because it’s completely set up to feed a need for external validation (I am still a sucker for those little red dots that say I have x amount of “likes” and have to work lovingly with myself to recognize that pattern and see what’s going on, and spend some time reminding myself that they don’t define my value either within or outside of the online world). It’s a work in progress. I’m committed to it. 

Healthy people don’t sit around wondering why someone doesn’t want them. They are too busy living their lives, strutting their stuff in the radiant knowledge that they are MAGNIFICENT, regardless of what anyone else thinks of them. 

Befriending My Nemesis

“Practice and all is coming”, they say. Phhhhhwwwwwhateverrrrr. 

My ongoing journey towards the elusive unsupported handstand is documented in this time lapse clip. I WILL DO IT for more than 5 seconds one day. As a kid I used to walk around on my hands and drop into unsupported handstands all the time. And then at some point I started practicing them against a wall and since then I simply do not seem to have the capacity to do it away from the wall. I practice, I practice, I rest, I laugh, I fall, I get pissed off and then I try again. I try different tips and different hand placements. Different surfaces. Different moods. Different weight distribution. And it eludes me. 

Headstand – no worries – totally stable and steady and happy away from any support. Strong, safe, almost unthinking in how natural and good it feels. Elbow balance, getting there. Handstand. Not today. Maybe tomorrow. 

They also say that the asana that eludes or annoys you is the one that you probably need the most. I don’t doubt that. And as with yoga in general, it’s got very little to do with flawless execution of a perfect posture, and more to do with the ability to maintain a compassionate and non-judgemental attitude of ahimsa – not just when flowing effortlessly in and out of your favourite shapes, but when you are repeatedly knocking your head, your pride and your confidence against a brick wall (or in my case today, a generously lush lawn). 

It’s at this point that the philosophy of yoga really comes into play and the embodiment of the philosophy has the opportunity to kick in. The “witness effect” – same as in meditation or mindfulness – when you observe as if from a distance and simply note what’s happening, with an attempt at neutrality, observing with interest but uninvolvement any emotions or patterns or sensations or thoughts that may arise.  

Easier said than done, especially when a seven year old is watching with great interest to see how Mummy reacts to not achieving what she set out to do. It really helped, in the end, because it was almost as if I was retraining my own perfectionist attitude and goal-orientated mindset and my expectation of Getting It Right, and I actually managed to just relax into it completely. I kicked up again and again. I fell again and again. I shrieked and I groaned and I sighed deeply and I giggled and started again. And it was as if my son was giving me the words that I needed to be telling myself – words that I would have said to anyone I love who was trying something and needed encouragement: “You’re doing so well, Mummy!”. “Keep going, Mum, great job” and “wow, you are really practicing hard”. In the end, I kept on with those words, even when he had got bored of watching me doing he same thing over and over (this clip is just one of many, many attempts). 

The wonderful lessons of yoga. Letting go of the desired outcome and the self-criticism and perceived failure at not achieving it, and instead just enjoying the fun and the privilege of kicking up on the lawn on a gorgeous lazy Sunday afternoon. Good enough for me. 

#patience #patience #patience #irritation #frustration #nemesis #bloodyeffinghandstand #giggles #realisation #lovethelesson #acceptance #yogapracticenotyogaperfect #practiceandalliscoming #yogawithnicci 

The Gentle Beauty of Yin Yoga – Love It Or Your Money Back!

Yin yoga was developed to penetrate deep into connective tissue expanding flexibility while invigorating the energy centers of the body (nadis) to release blockages and increase your energy flow.

Yin yoga was developed to penetrate deep into connective tissue expanding flexibility while invigorating the energy centers of the body (nadis) to release blockages and increase your energy flow.

Many people have asked me about Yin yoga after seeing it on our new October schedule – what it is, why they should try it and why it’s different to our usual flow classes. And since we aim to please at our little riverside yoga studio, here is some information that may help you to decide whether it’s something you want to add to your practice (the answer is yes, by the way):

A quiet, meditative yoga practice, also called taoist yoga, Yin focuses on lengthening connective tissues and is meant to complement yang yoga—your muscle-forming flow that is most often practiced in Western studios. Yin poses are passive, meaning you’re supposed to relax muscles and let gravity do the work. And they’re long—you’ll practice patience here too.

Yin Yoga uses gentle long held postures practiced with an attitude of compassionate acceptance to awaken the more Yin parts of our physical, emotional and spiritual selves. It is an amazing practice that is dominantly seated, that focuses on bringing health and vitality back to body/mind/spirit through the manipulation of the fascia (connective tissue), the energy body and all sensations and emotions that come along for the ride. Its a profound practice, very insightful and carries a wealth of healing knowledge that can be applied to anybody. A lot of yin is allowing yourselves to be tender and wise within our own forms.  There is so much wisdom in the water and tissues in the body, we simply must create a safe and relaxed setting for this wisdom and energy to flow. Yin helps to still the body, setting it shapes that allow us to target the areas where energy tends to get stuck.

Yin focuses on the hips, pelvis and spine mostly but because the body cannot be separated into parts and sides, yin yoga examines the body as a connected unit of tissues that communicate, contain or liberate other aspects of the body. We can all relate to that feeling stuck or out of place feeling in the body. We know what it needs to flow, with inside and out.

Yin has a few simple principles. Find the shape that works for you. Victoria will guide you into the pose but you may find that you need to adjust it slightly to suit your own body (as with ‘normal’ yang yoga) – until it feels right. Turn the muscles off, relax the body, deepen the breath, stay present and hold for time. Seems simple right? Looks like it from the external appearance,but on the inside we are looking for and hanging out in the places in the body where we tend to hold, resist and feel stuck in. It’s in the tension in the body that we can unlock the keys to healing, realigning and becoming stable in who we are. The long holds and focus on breath in Yin means that classes have this air of meditation and the same feeling of otherworldiness only long breathing sessions and moving of blockages can do. I recently did one of Victoria’s Yin classes and I felt like I was floating by the end of the class – even speaking felt like it was too loud and jarring after the peaceful atmosphere she created so masterfully. Her beautiful Norwegian accent and her ability to hold the silences without needing to fill them with words just helped to make it a truly magical experience.

I really, really, really recommend that everyone tries one of these classes at least once. See it as the biggest and kindest gift and token of self love that you could give yourself this month. You will not regret it. In fact, if you don’t like it, I will give you your money back. So please, go to one and feed back to me how it was, so I can put my money where my mouth is. No pressure, Vic!

I took a lot of this information from a lovely site called ‘Love Light Yoga’ – check them out if you want to show them some love.

The Death / Celebration of a Precious Child: Chanting ‘Om’ for Baby Sam I Am

Chanting ‘Om’ for Baby Sam I Am

Last Friday I had the incredible privilege of being a part of a memorial service for an 18 month super-hero who left this world too soon. He was the son of a school friend, and although I was never fortunate enough to meet little Sam, by all accounts he was an absolute legend. Judging from the turn out at the memorial service and the way in which people reacted on the day, this little dude really was something very special indeed.

As a mother of a 4 year old and a 2 year old, this whole tragedy was painfully close to my heart, and I confess that I spend the entire weekend that I heard about the accident in floods of tears, and spent more time at my meditation bench, with a candle lit for my friend and her husband and two remaining sons, than I recall doing in recent times. I cried when I woke up, I cried when I went to sleep, and the only thing I could do to start to make sense of this senseless situation was to meditate and to try to send love, light and acceptance to the bereaved family.

I wasn’t the only one  – as the news spread, friends kept contacting me, asking if it was true and whether I knew any further details. We all were grieving, not just for the family and the deadening loss of this vibrant child, but for every single parent that ever has to experience this despicable turn of the natural order – no sweet quotes can ever make up for a parent having to bury their child.

The memorial service was simultaneously the most moving, emotional, harrowing and uplifting experience I have had in my life. As I arrived, the late afternoon sunshine was twinkling diagonally across the field in front of the graceful old Cape Dutch house, the oak trees were dancing in the wind, and there was the sound of a piper on the breeze – anyone who has heard this before will know what a haunting and emotive sound this is. Upon seeing the beautiful shrine set up in front of the natural marquis, with framed pictures of the precious little Sam, the white candles, wind chimes and bouquets decorating the oak trees around the tent, it was immediately apparent that this was going to be something to be remembered. The parents had asked for people to bring a plant to remember Sam in a memorial garden, and the beautifully delineated garden was literally bursting at the seams with all the offerings. I love to think how that garden is going to thrive as the years go by.

The service started with the most beautiful song, ‘Precious Child’ by Karen Taylor Good, and it was at this point that I gave up trying to stem the flow of tears, and instead allowed them to stream down my face as everyone ached along with the incredibly brave parents.  We were all united through our floods of tears and an astronomical amount of respect for the family for how bravely they are handling this tragedy and what incredible support they are managing to provide to each other, even through their own personal pain.

The eulogy read by the mother – the beautiful, brave mother- brought everyone to their knees:

Our baby boy, our source of joy

Our brother and our friend.

We loved you then, we love you now

And this is not the end.

Your freckled nose, your cheeky grin

Your big blue eyes shone from within

Your joyous shouts of “gotta go!”

This world for you was just too slow

The way you lived, the way you loved

Was so intense and pure

And we hope that you felt treasured here,

Because, by God, you truly were

An old soul is what we called you

And that is what you are

We feel your love around us now

To help us heal these scars

You may not be here on this earth

But in our hearts you are alive

We are today, we’ll ALWAYS be

A family of five.

Love you always, Mommy, Daddy, Jack and Alex

We cried, we wept, we admired everyone who made a beautiful speech, and we applauded the farm labourers who showed their love for the baby himself, as well as a deep love and sense of respect for the parents. When hundreds of balloons – white (to symbolise all the spaces that will be left behind by this beautiful baby) and blue (to symbolise all the tears we will all shed that will be sent up to heaven rather than falling to the ground) – were released, we all watched them rise high into the sky and then drift off with the wind over the Overberg and into the great unknown. This was possibly the most heartrendingly beautiful part of the whole ceremony.

I have nothing to offer to the mother and father of this precious child, gone too soon. I am not religious, but my sense of spirituality deepens with each passing year, and especially with each passing person. So many people have written such beautiful things, and I can’t compete. So, simply, a few words:

When my precious granny passed away on 2 August 2012, I feel that I was fast-forwarded into the realm of pondering what’s beyond the here and now. My granny, Patricia Brink Langley, was not only the most stylish babe one could ever meet but the most wise, humorous and calm person you can imagine. She practiced yoga from her early days in then-Rhodesia, and she is most definitely the reason that I fell in love with the practice myself. For months since she died, I have felt that every time I ended a class and led the class in chanting ‘Om’, it was all about Patrish – that’s who I hold in my mind’s eye, and I as I bow my head down as the class ends, I see her face and can almost hear her saying in her gentle voice ‘Hello darling’. But now, every single time I prepare to get up off my yoga mat, she shares that precious moment with Sam, who is also front of mind when I turn my attention to the beautiful universe and trust that all is happening as it should.

I can’t imagine how you would ever make sense of the loss of this little/huge person. I see Sam everywhere. I keep you in my mind all the time, J and P, and that’s all I can do. See below for why Sam is ever-present in my yoga classes xxx

Om is a mantra, or vibration, that is traditionally chanted at the beginning and/or end of yoga sessions. It is said to be the sound of the universe.

Somehow the ancient yogis knew what scientists today are telling us—that the entire universe is moving. Nothing is ever solid or still. Everything that exists pulsates, creating a rhythmic vibration that the ancient yogis acknowledged with the sound of Om. We may not always be aware of this sound in our daily lives, but we can hear it in the rustling of the autumn leaves, the waves on the shore, the inside of a seashell.

Chanting Om allows us to recognize our experience as a reflection of how the whole universe moves—the setting sun, the rising moon, the ebb and flow of the tides, the beating of our hearts. As we chant Om, it takes us for a ride on this universal movement, through our breath, our awareness, and our physical energy, and we begin to sense a bigger connection that is both uplifting and soothing.Image/