Several years ago, I recall hearing Jillian (Pransky, my teacher) say in one of her workshops, “you don’t have to qualify to receive the grace of your breath.” It blew my mind. I took this to mean that your body keeps breathing, your lungs keep functioning, your autonomic nervous system keeps you alive and provides the tool of your breath as a gift in every present moment, regardless of how you feel about yourself that day. That even when you feel small, or less than, or not enough – you deserve the gift of your breath. Even when things aren’t perfect or you don’t feel like a huge success, you deserve your breath just as must as you do on the good days, when you feel like you’re on top of the world.
As a recovering perfectionist, this stuck with me. Full disclosure: I can get pretty preoccupied with being “qualified,” and “good enough,” and “accepted.” Just a few things I try to keep in check.
The trap with this is that it opens the door for fear to creep in and paralyze you, keeping you from taking the risks that lead to the life of your dreams. I’m not exactly a huge risk taker. When we take risks, we often put ourselves out there to be judged…leaving ourselves vulnerable to the possibility of rejection. REJECTION…a fate (almost) worse than death, second only to FAILURE. And if you’ve got a pretty vocal inner critic, the fear might keep you stuck in a viscous cycle.
The good news is, if you’re willing to risk rejection or failure, to put yourself out there and take whatever feedback comes, it has the potential to become a self-affirming, validating, and empowering experience. An experience that quiets that harsh inner critic and sets up a success cycle, a cycle of increased self-esteem. Which leads to more vulnerability and risk taking, in the most productive way.
When I look around at people who I perceive to be successful, they’re the ones who are sharing their gifts, and themselves. Some are “qualified,” some are not so “official.” Some people reject them, but plenty relate to them, and there’s infinite value in that connection. There will always be haters. The real test is how you deal with the haters, because you just can’t make everyone happy.
My goal for 2016 is to stop letting the fear of not being “qualified” hold me back. To share more of my vision, even if it means to risk rejection or failure. We can’t know acceptance without rejection, or success without failure, just like we can’t know joy without fear or sadness. And whether we feel accepted, rejected, successful, vulnerable, fearful, or joyful, our breath doesn’t care. We don’t have to qualify to receive the grace of the breath. So take a deep breath, let go of fear, welcome vulnerability, and be open to what life has to offer.