A Week of Reflections, Part 1: The Courage to Be Disliked

Hello lovely lovely humans

How are we all? My Christmas was the quietest and calmest I can remember. That silence – well, as much silence as you can possibly get in a home that includes 3 children, 3 cats and a Golden Retriever who enjoys nothing more than barking at a stray Wotsit that’s somehow made its way under the sofa – but, that silence was very welcome. Curious, that, as I have not always been one for quiet and calm.

Despite my gratitude for a calm Christmas, a word that is coming up for me a lot this week is loneliness. I hadn’t truly connected to my own feelings of loneliness this year, but I have now. It is an extremely emotional thing to connect with. I hadn’t allowed myself to be aware of it until now. Perhaps because I had so many distractions this year. Perhaps it was just awaiting the calm in this final few days of the year. For many this year has been a real experience of loneliness. And not always because we have been literally alone – indeed, for some, for me, it has been a year of never having any opportunity to be alone at all. And yet the sense of loneliness can be incredibly present. The inability to see friends, to hug, to embrace one another. It’s created something of a separation for many. In that separation I have learnt a lot. I have begun work on boundaries (more on that later in the week) I have really been able to connect to the depth of gratitude I feel for certain people in my life. For certain experiences I would usually, when the world is open, have access to. it’s also helped me to identify what I may now be ready to let go of. As lockdown continues, my feeling is that those of us who connect online to do yoga, to do breath, to build small communities that can come together to help manage our emotions and step back out in to this most peculiar time we are living through… I believe we make change. And not only for ourselves. For those around us too.

Many of us have had to sit with our anxiety this year in ways that the speed at which life can move would not usually allow – or, more accurately, we are usually able to keep moving at such speed that we do not allow the stillness to come in to our lives much at all. From talking with peers and with friends and loved ones, I believe that very many of us feel ready to make changes, now. Not because we walk towards a New Year, not only that, but because this year has given space to recognise that we don’t often like how we feel.

This Life Divine is coming up – it starts on Saturday. 2nd January. 9:30am. I’m really passionate about the value of this event. It takes place online, via zoom. It is a 3 day festival of yoga, breath work, lectures and workshops and the theme is to look at ways of moving through anxious and addictive behaviours. Addiction does not, in any way, mean substance abuse alone. Addiction is defined as suffering. Any behaviour, any habit or recurring thought process or pattern in your life that makes you feel like crap. I believe most of us have such things. Often a lot of them. Often some that we put down only to immediately pick up another. And perhaps, as we move in to 2021, we’re ready, we can be ready, to put these behaviours down. This event will be powerful. It will be fascinating. You do not have to commit to the full three days (although I will be and to do so will be a gift beyond words). Take a look at the schedule and see what you’d like to try out. If money is any obstacle to you coming along then you can sign up for free. All profits from ticket sales are being donated to some wonderful charities.

Find out more over on the This Life Divine website and if you have any questions feel free to send me an email or to leave a comment here.

Lessons from 2020

I wrote to recently on this blog about the amazing transformative year I have had. Due, to a large extent, by my experiences and the journey of training to teach Kundalini Global yoga. Journey is a word that comes up again and again and again in the realms of any spiritual practise (and on programmes like X factor). It is one of those words that can lose its potency from the prevalence of its use. But a journey it has been. The start of one. I feel as if I am at the start. And that is, for me, a feeling of hope. I enter 2020 feeling full of hope. I intend to be in service, to share what I have learned, to build community and to, I do hope, not only to help facilitate calm and stillness in the lives of others but also to bring joy. I see classes as an opportunity not only to activate transformation but also to have fun. Fun is so important. And often neglected in times of a global pandemic.

I have learnt a lot about myself this year, and over the next week I thought I would share some of the lessons that have come to me over this last 12 months. Some of them huge and life changing, some of them small, humbling, sweet. If any resonate with you I would love to know. I will be posting every day this week, on a new aspect of what I have been working on for myself this year. I’m starting with something that’s a huge part of what I am working on right now. And will continue to be an aspect of what I move through walking in to 2021:

People are always going to dislike you. Let that just be.

I am working on a commitment to being non-judging. It is incredibly rare that I say negative things about anyone else. It’s not in my nature to. But internally, like most of us, I do judge. It can feel impossible not to and, most especially, to have enough awareness to notice when judgement creeps in. For me, though, to work on not judging others is a whole lot easier than my experience this year of coming to accept that, no matter what you do, others will compare, judge, find you lacking, be offended by your actions and, on occasion, make it abundantly clear that they do not like you one bit.

I am moving through a situation right now that feels a bit like I’ve stepped in to Mean Girls. I have zero interest in broadcasting the details but someone has come in to my universe who seems to want to both subtly and not so subtly let me know with some regularity that they have a problem with me. In itself that feels fine. The issue came, for me, in that they have, at the same time, been equally loud in their expression of adoration for others who I have personally, and uncharacteristically, come to lean on for support, which made people and spaces that were previously safe for me the total opposite. This, initially, sent me in to a real child state. Terror, in fact. My safety was taken away. More correctly: I allowed it to be. But that, however hard it feels, is a choice. To allow someone else to take that safety away was something I could choose to allow, or not to. So whilst I cannot, right now, step away from this situation and this person entirely, I have really had to be aware of my responses, and activate adulting and soothing myself. All whilst practising being non-judging and kind to the person who doesn’t like me. Tricky stuff. But valuable. So valuable. As the days pass, and this particular situation unfolds, I am building a confidence in my ability to parent myself and it’s fostering something special and unfamiliar inside of me. In many ways, this situation, then, has been a blessing.

Whether I can see it as a blessing or not, when things like this happen it can be easy to be offended and defensive, ‘but I’m so kind! But I only want to help! But I did that thing for them’. Or we can get angry, think, ”well, fuck them, I don’t need them anyway.’ – not just, in my example about the person who doesn’t like you, but those who you feel separated from as a result. For me, my go to would usually be to further internalise self-loathing. To feel there is something inherently wrong with me that I could be so offensive to others… this is shame. How shame manifests.

This is something I have struggled with for my entire life. My go-to behaviour from that shame has always been to appease, to soothe, to make myself ‘perfect’ so that I can desperately reach, grasping for the reins, to steer how others perceive me. Lots of us do that. We get to a point where we never say no. Where we live almost entirely for the other. Where we give and give in the hope of being labelled as ‘good’ or ‘useful’ or whatever it may be. And then in comes exhaustion. And perhaps resentment. And a sense of self-loathing, for me, that, no matter how incredibly hard I try to ‘prove myself’ I still can’t make everyone happy. This path never works.

After a lot of work, I am coming to a place that can accept and allow. Right now I can have an emotion about someone making it clear that they do not like me. Or what I do. I can notice my body tense as they roll their eyes when I talk. But that I can allow that to be… and to pass.

I notice for myself that the more authentic my life becomes, the more I feel I am in tune with my own path, my own mission, the more I step in to being me, the more people react negatively to me. A hard reality to face. But a valuable lesson. By putting down some of my soothing and appeasing behaviours, the easier it becomes to just notice others reactions and allow it to be. No judgement. Not attempting to soothe. Putting in place some boundaries. It creates a space. A space to allow. A space to activate the courage to be disliked. The Courage to Be Disliked. It’s a book that is guiding me in life right now. And those 5 words are a mantra for me as I step in to 2021.

As I say, I am going to post every day this week, so do check back tomorrow. And also don’t forget to book your place on This Life Divine.

Let me know your thoughts on having the courage to be disliked and, as always, I send each and every one of you loads and loads of love.

Sara-Jayne xxx

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