Why Your Weakness is Your Strength
Each of us has sensitive places. Physically, maybe we are more perceptible to weak knees, hip joints or shoulders. Emotionally, maybe it’s difficult for us to express ourselves or find discipline.
Recently, some physical and emotional experiences have made me rethink this concept of "weakness". Weaknesses can either stay as they are or turn into strengths within our lifetime, depending on our unique experiences, and even more on how we react to what life throws our way.
The “weak” spots are the places that are easiest to fall into—I see it sort of like a ditch. It’s hard to climb out because the pain it brings up or the button it presses is so familiar and tender that we lose perspective when meeting it face to face. It’s the place where all the meditation and yoga we’ve been practicing flies out of the window, landing us back at what seems like step #1.
In yoga there is a saying that goes, the pose that you enjoy the least, you should practice most. The message is that the our sensitive places often have the most to teach us. It might be the longest path we’ll walk in our own journey but the growth is the most meaningful and life-changing.
As a kid, I was diagnosed with asthma and a few years later in high school, after getting sick with Mono and a terrible stomach virus during my senior year, I quit my 10 year dance career and fell into a deep spell of depression and anxiety (all of which, by the way, lead me to recovery through yoga).
Breathing issues and depression most likely don’t jive with the perfect image of a yoga teacher, huh? And it’s true, when beginning to practice; yoga didn’t feel natural in many ways. I distinctly remember refusing to close my eyes in Savasana or the resistance towards meditation. I remember my scoliosis feeling like a curse, thinking “will my back ever be straight?! “ And yes, even today the easiest choice is to fall back into these weak thought patterns.
With years of self-study and growth, I have changed immensely and so has my practice (as I’m sure is the same for if you also have a dedicated practice). Today, I love closing my eyes while practicing and letting go of that control I used to hold on to so tightly. But still, the sensitive spots live on, and they take just a little bit longer and a little more patience to develop. Just like those yoga poses that have always challenged us.
In recent months, I started experiencing tension and pain in my chest after pulling a muscle. Not knowing exactly what happened, tension began rising in my chest and in my breath, and this injury actually caused me (embarrassingly might I add) to faint during a workshop taught by a senior Iyengar teacher visiting from Italy (oops :-/). The associated feelings and thoughts were not and are not pleasant. Quickly and instinctually, my mind moved past my higher consciousness and understanding and brought me back to feelings of shame, sadness and anxiety about the future. There’s nothing like sickness or injury to shake you up like that.
Feeling down, confused about what was wrong and also just scared had the power to knock me down. Then, during a visit to a holistic doctor, he told me: “you’ve made your weaknesses your strengths by becoming a yoga teacher, why should this be any different?”
There it was. I’m sure I knew it somewhere deep down, but then I was ready to listen.
Moments that speak to our tenderness—to that thing we’ve been working on for so long—are invaluable. How could we ever move past and strengthen these sore spots without meeting them head on first? These moments signal a person's tectonic shift and the choice is 100% yours, either to play the victim or to forge ahead, bigger and better than ever.
The best part? The choice is always there at any given moment. So maybe today isn’t your day, but maybe tomorrow will be, or maybe the next day—it’s there for you to choose. Your weakness is literally there looking you in the eye and asking: “What is next for you? More of the same or something else, something better?”
Don’t shy away from what still needs to be figured out. What lies behind “weakness” is growth, self-love, learning and strength. At first, it might feel like you’re back at step #1, but that’s all a disguise! The weak spot is an opportunity to reset and leap ahead in your journey of self-understanding, love and the power to choose growth. That’s what I plan to do, what about you?