Have you done this before?
Repeatedly told yourself over and over again the same mantra.
I don’t like pineapple.
I hate running.
I’m not a morning person.
I am scared of heights.
Well when you repeat these things to yourself often enough, you start to create this sense of “this is who I am” and you begin to define yourself under these categories.
In yoga terms, this “I-am-ness” is referred to as Asmita (translated as Egoism).
It is the concept of creating a self-image of ourselves that we believe is us, however these are all false projections of ourselves.
We start to define ourselves within certain categories like “I am bad at singing” or “I am a vegan” or “I’m a meat eater”.
And from these labels, we start to convince ourselves that this is simply “who I am”.
And to add another level to this statement, we believe that we can’t change this about ourselves and before you know it, you’re saying:
“This is who I am. You can’t change me.”
Have you caught yourself saying that phrase before?
We start defining ourselves in this way and we make it part of our identity. And we teach our brain to think that we can never change.
When I first starting practicing Ashtanga yoga almost 15 years ago, I was absolutely convinced I could never attend a 6am yoga class because “I’m sooooo not a morning person”.
But the fact is, I was defining myself in a particular way and it was giving me a false projection of myself.
After believing I could never do a 6am yoga class, I attended my first yoga retreat in the Rocky Mountains of Canada and all the morning sessions were 6am starts.
After a few days of intense early morning practice, I realised how incredible my mind and body felt each morning and for the rest of the day.
From that day on, I was hooked.
I stopped making excuses and instead, I found ways to fit my yoga practice into my daily life.
I stopped defining myself by what I didn’t like or couldn’t do.
Instead, I started creating space in my life to make change. Real change.
When I returned to Sydney and starting full time work again, I travelled to the city each morning for my 6am class and then showered and went to work. I did this every day of the working week then enjoyed a leisurely 8am yoga class on the weekends 🙂
Then I started realising that all these years of telling myself I wasn’t a morning person just simply wasn’t a true projection of myself.
Don’t get me wrong, waking up so early every morning wasn’t always easy, especially in winter, but the change was worth it and it became natural for me and part of my life to start the day this way.
Change isn’t easy.
It won’t come about with little effort.
It can require a change of perspective.
It can cause you to feel uncomfortable. Nervous. Uncertain.
But gosh, it’s so worth it.
So when you catch yourself starting your sentences with “I am” or “I’m not”…. perhaps pause and reflect about how you are defining yourself and if this is really how you want to train your brain to think.
Perhaps there’s another way?
Change is part of life. It is whether we are receptive to this change and willing to accept the invitation to change.
Perhaps today you are ready to make your change.