People come in to our lives in amazing ways. As a personal trainer and yoga teacher I often feel like I am getting as much from my clients as I am giving them. The inspiration I feel from the people I am lucky enough to meet is one of the favourite parts of my job. Some live a fantasy-like existence and give you a sense of hope, faith and aspiration. Others, through their stories, hold up a mirror and reflect back at you the very things you need to see in order to become a more authentic person.
Sometimes the mirror reflects the good. Sometimes it reflects the not-so-good! This can be confronting – but it can often be profound, up-lifting and refreshing.
As a trainer you make an emotional connection with your clients – at least I do. If they are open and honest with you about who they are and what life is throwing at them, they allow you the privilege to witness not only their vulnerability but also their light. You develop a sense of love, respect and compassion for them. An admiration of their strength to confront their challenges. Admiration of their resolve to make changes in their lives – no matter how hard the changes appear on the outset.
There is nothing more inspiring than witnessing the honesty and courage from the people in your life. All of a sudden you realise that you are not the only one with difficult decisions afoot. You are not the only one who makes mistakes. Feeling love and compassion for them turns into a softness and forgiveness for yourself. Because no matter what mistakes a person has made, you have a great person standing in front of you. You can see that the mistakes they have made come from the same place that makes them interesting, intriguing and beautiful people.
(And so you realise that the same must also be true for you…)
Learning to forgive yourself is essential to your growth and capacity to move forward. Because, when we ‘grow up’ we learn that we have to take responsibility for where we are in life. We understand that we are a sum of the choices we’ve made and the beliefs we hold about ourselves. If our current state in life is not so great, this realization can be quite harsh.
The danger is that we let this be a self-depreciating realization and continue to criticise ourselves for our mistakes. In doing so we feel like there is something fundamentally flawed with our being. We continually punish ourselves for our past mistakes and therefore disable our ability to move forward – because we are afraid that we don’t have the capacity to change and make better choices. We are afraid of what we may lose if we make the changes we know we need to make – friends, our identity, love, opportunity, money, status, power. We become more afraid of disappointing other people than we are of disappointing ourselves.
(The common thread is fear…)
Meeting people who are brave enough to feel the fear and make the changes anyway is the inspiration and blessing that I am most grateful for. It is this treasure that makes me realise that at some point we have to lighten up on ourselves and accept just because we have made mistakes in the past does not mean we are destined to make the same mistakes over and over. It is these people who show us that we have a choice… we can have the same thoughts, take the same action and make the same mistakes. OR we can take a new perspective. Take authentic action and change our lives…