September 25, 2015

We’re All Learning: Getting Off the Praise Roller Coaster.

Nick Page/Flickr

[Warning: A tad bit of adult language ahead!]

The endless roller coaster I put myself through.

I hurt an awesome yoga student in yoga teacher training through a hip adjustment. I feel like a jerk (rightfully so), and wonder what in the heck I’m doing.

I get published. I feel okay, and like I’m making a positive difference in the world.

In yoga class I realize I smell terrible, the one day when a beautiful man decides to give me an adjustment. Right near my stinky ass. (Hey, yeah, sorry about that).

Yes, I accomplish the impossible, and manage to make smelling like shit and feeling like shit symbiotic.

I lament to my husband over these things like Hamlet might over his feat. He listens to me with a half smile because he remembers something that I can’t at that moment:

That it all gets better.

The sun comes out tomorrow, when I have showered and meditated a bit.

Eventually, after getting torn up from this roller coaster, I get the brilliant idea to stop putting myself through this. To stop basing my worth on some external force telling me who I am.

I remember to take one deep breath and smile to myself, knowing that tomorrow, somehow, this will all be better.

That somehow what I thought was oh so horrible will be washed away, and I will know the joy of just being.

That’s the thing.

When we stop making our joy about just being—about moving, breathing, feeling the grass, stretching—we get lost. We get tethered to someone’s praise—or someone’s not-so-praise.

We get catapulted to freakishly high heights, and we’re screaming our asses off, only to be plummeted down to hell, where we are screaming just the same, but for a different reason.

Seeing beyond the moment is hard when the moment is the thing that defines us.

That is why I suggest that we begin to do the half smile and be grateful when we get hit by something hard—something we think might just knock us on our ass—because at least we don’t smell like shit today.

There’s always that to be grateful for.

But fo’ real though.

When we whine, complain and overall forget the absolute brilliance we have within us, it makes it hard to move in any direction, especially a helpful one.

Immobilized by self-loathing, I wasn’t able to be fully present when I hurt my fellow yogi, because I was too busy listening to “K-Fucked” in my head. Anne Lammott calls this the radio station in our heads that is an endless stream of self-defeating drivel.

Listening to it makes it hard to like ourselves at all.

Turning down that station, we can be compassionate. We can see someone else and recognize their suffering, and not worry so much about ourselves.

Eventually, after I was done feeling bad about myself, I was able to think of things I could do to be helpful to my yogi friend I hurt, like making a care package.

And now I see I deserve one too.

I deserve compassion, and some patience, because I’m just learning—like everyone else.

We all deserve it now and again.

We deserve permission to screw it up, own it, learn from it and then walk away from it. Because the sun will come out—tomorrow.

Or not, and then we will have an interesting story about it that might help someone else going through the same thing.

The key is to love the ups and downs, as if it’s all a gift.

Because it is.


[1] Lamott, A. (1994). Bird by bird: Some instructions on writing and life. New York: Random House, Inc.


Relephant Read:

Riding My Roller-Coaster & No-One Else’s.


Author: ​​Maria Palumbo

Editor: Toby Israel

Photo: Nick Page/Flickr


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