I recently came across a well-known quote from Eleanor Roosevelt: "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." It immediately struck a chord with me. If I'm being honest with myself, I do feel inferior, in some way or another, most of the time. But why? Who is telling me I'm not good enough, pretty enough, skinny enough, smart enough, etc...?
When I circle back to the origin of most of this messaging, it comes from marketers, people trying to sell me something: a more perfect, less wrinkled face, a piece of clothing that will flatten my tummy, or "trendy" accessories so I "fit in" with the cool crowd. What do they have to gain from my dissatisfaction with myself? Money, and lots of it. The beauty and fashion industry, among others, are worth billions. BILLIONS. And they thrive on our self-loathing.
The bitter pill I had to swallow here, is that I consent to their judgments of me. I believe that somehow, I'm not already perfect, in all my imperfections, stumbling and struggles, bad hair days and slightly blemished skin. I believe that I must somehow live up to this manufactured image created by ad executives whose only concern is selling a product.
This constant, gnawing feeling of not being good enough can also spill into our yoga practice. We may feel that we "should" look a certain way in a pose, or we push ourselves too far to get into that advanced pose before we're ready, as if somehow, instant enlightenment awaits us, or we'll be more lovable, if we could just stand on our heads.
I propose we become much more discerning about when we grant our consent to being criticized. Some criticism is constructive, helpful, and necessary for us to grow. But most of the messaging we receive is of an entirely different kind. Can we start to practice radical self-acceptance? Can we begin to fathom that we are, in fact, already perfect? This is not to say that there isn't room for growth or that we shouldn't take care of ourselves, and it isn't denying we're on a spiritual path, but it is giving ourselves the gift of unconditional love, accepting our light and our shadow, as necessary aspects to our evolution.
And if we can't stand on our heads, it's no big deal.