When i thought about teaching an actual yoga class someday, i was immediately filled with self-doubt. Just some of the thoughts swirling in my head:
How the hell can i do this?
What if i freeze in the middle of the class?
What if i forget what to say?
What if i mix up left and right?
What if i forget what a leg is called?
What if my instructions are not clear?
What if everyone hates my class?
What if i am not creative enough?
What if the other experienced people and teachers judge me?
And have you ever had this moment: You have to do a thing. Then you watch someone else do the thing. And comparison starts eating you up: maybe i should do it more like her? Maybe i should also include this and this.. Maybe i should use these words, they seem better than mine. She did it so well, mine is nothing compared to hers. What if others will compare us? They will probably not like mine as much. Maybe i should try to make mine more like hers.
I feel myself wanting to curl up to a little ball and stay there. Forever.
Self-doubt is heavy to carry. It weighs you down. It’s a real, deep feeling that eats you up in tiny little pieces until you are left as a nervous wreck. And it’s up to you to either let it happen or stop it before it really begins. And when you think about it a bit deeper, it’s only lies. It’s all what-ifs. It’s not reality, it is an illusion in your own mind. It’s nothing that has happened already, nothing that’s happening to you right now.
I explored my feelings and came to the conclusion that my self-doubt is caused by the following things:
- fear of not being perfect (=messing up words, mixing left and right, forgetting something, not being clear enough)
- fear of judgement (=what if they will hate it? what if they will think i am not good enough?)
- comparison (=the teacher i had before was so good, i am not as good as they are.)
My advice to myself for overcoming self-doubt
- Your breath is your strongest ally. So be there with your breath. Connect with it. Every time you remember, come back to your breath.
- Acceptance. Practice fierce, radical acceptance towards the fact that you are feeling this way. Tell yourself it’s okay. You are human being with feelings. There is nothing wrong with that. There is nothing wrong if other people see your nervousness. So accept your feeling instead of fighting it. Acknowledge it but don’t dwell on it. Create space around it. You are a human, you have a feeling, and it’s fine.
- Get out of yourself. No one is thinking about you as much as you are. No one is thinking about your performance as much as you are. No one is thinking about your speech and movements as much as you are. Literally no one cares about it as much as you do. No one judges yourself as much as you do. So get out of yourself and realize: it is not about you.
- I repeat: it is not about you. It is about the people who come there to practice with you. It is about sharing what you know with them. You are just there, in between the people and the yoga. It has nothing to do with you or how you mixed up left and right and how you forgot the name of a body part.
- If someone is judging you – this also has nothing to do with you. Someones judgement does not define you. It does not define your practice, your knowledge, your class. It only has to do with the person who is judging and their inner journey. It is none of your business what they think about you.
- No one expects perfectionism. Neither should you. You have seen your favorite teachers make mistakes. They don’t dwell on it, they don’t stop to think “oh man, i messed that up. Damn, what do i do now? I can’t believe i made a mistake”. They carry on without apologies. They are used to it. Because it happens to all of us, literally. So why should you expect perfection from yourself? As you know, expectations create fear. When the fear is there, you can’t focus on the doing. So drop it. Drop the perfectionism and know that whatever happens, it’s ok.
- When you compare yourself to another person and how they do a thing, you start drifting away from your authentic self. When you try to follow a script that’s not natural to you, you drift away from your authentic self. And when you drift away, you are trying to play a role: a role of yourself, a role of something else, a role of the perfect teacher you want to be. And when this happens, you start automatically being more insecure, more clumsy, more not-knowing-what-to-do-and-say. So be authentic. Be how you are, right at this moment. Do not try to be who you want to be after two years of practice. Do not try to imitate someone else. Do not lose the authenticity. “Start where you are, with what you have.”
- And remember: whatever happens in your first class, second class or on the 150th class, does not define you as a teacher.
With these things in mind, i will start preparing myself. By practicing compassion towards myself, practicing acceptance towards all the feelings that are rising up. And by keeping it super simple for now.