hard to say

by blogasana on November 4, 2010

This week was Teacher Trainee phone check ins. A chance to check in with each person individually, answer any questions, and hear about life through the lens of the program. We are over halfway through the 5 months, and boy are they are in it — confusion, disappointment, joy, frustration, awe, faith, transformation and the rest.

One of the themes we come to again and again in our training weekends is the idea of taking care of one’s self, doing what is best for you. Whether it is creating that container for a classroom of people, taking care of yourself as a student and teacher, or taking care of yourself as a human being.

Of course this is balanced with family and responsibility. Most of us don’t live alone. Our choices impact other people.

And, like for so many women (we happen to be a group of all females), there is little or no sense of this balance. For some it seems every decision is based on the needs of others. To do something for one’s self “feels selfish,” “arrogant,” or at best “impossible to do even when I want to.”

During check in, several of the trainees reported that they had, despite best intentions to take care of themselves, committed to events or activities that overloaded their schedules, added physical and/or emotional stress, and went against their gut to please someone else. Fully knowing, and yet feeling like there was no other choice.

I understand. I do. This past weekend I went to visit two dear friends. They made me dinner. And dessert.

And I didn’t mention that I’m smack dab in the middle of a 28 day cleanse (I know, I haven’t even talked about it here!). No sugar, dairy, or bread.

We had pizza. And cookies. And ice cream. (Oh my!)

I didn’t want to disrupt, to disappoint.

Frankly, I didn’t feel badly about it. I haven’t wiggled the rules of the cleanse once even though there’s stated wiggle room. But it would have been easy to let my friends know. They would have been accommodating.

There are times we give ourselves to the service of another (spend the afternoon with a grieving friend), times to do something for the greater good (volunteer at an animal shelter). There are also times to put yourself first, to make sure you refuel.

Commonly we put ourselves first only when we have to, when there’s no other choice: illness, debilitating injury, near breakdown.

Similar to the question What is your dream?, are we uncomfortable with our own wants and needs? Have we been conditioned to put ourselves second, or third, or last. Do we, as a culture, look at women who make sure their needs are met as the self-serving bitch?

What I want to know is: How do you take care of yourself inside a life of many options? Have you been conditioned to not rock the boat? Do you have a hard time saying No? Does this show up on your mat in trying to please the teacher?


Holy wow, even though it’s kind of a secret, I totally want to tell you about the new website I’m working on. It will be a refinement of Blogasana with the same types of yum (yoga, stories, poetry), along with more fun and ka-pow. I’m working with Copylicious Kelly, so you know it’s going to be awesome. It would be great to subscribe so you know when and where things move (you can do that at the “Sign me up” button at the top right of the page). Cheers!

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Amy --- Just A Titch November 4, 2010 at 6:02 pm

I’m rocking the boat, big time, right now. It’s scary but hard but good. Learning to say yes to me has been really important.


blogasana November 4, 2010 at 6:28 pm

rock it hard, girl. it’s the only way. xoxo


Emma November 5, 2010 at 12:16 am

im not rocking the boat. my head is feeling fuzzy enough that im not even sure what needs are, exactly, right now.

but this is a nice kick in the ass to keep asking myself what the heck i want.


Kelley M November 5, 2010 at 1:26 am

I’m probably very passive aggressive with this topic. One week it’s all about what needs to be done for the job, the house, the kid, the husband, the pets, etc. with a little Kelley exercise and TV installed few and far between. Then the next week it’s “look out world” I’m taking every bit of time to myself. “Go to hell, screw you, get out of my way, do it yourself, don’t do it at all cuz it’s Kelley time.” Delegate, procrastinate, cut corners, do what it takes for me time. But this isn’t probably a great balance, week to week or so. A little daily balance is what we all desire but I’m just not there yet. Thanks for the post Michelle. Great stuff. Wish I had Kelley time to be a teacher trainer….at least your students have done that for themselves. Hugies.


Leili November 5, 2010 at 4:49 am

I *think* I know what I want and need…but in a lot of ways I’m just out of touch. I think I’m good at the self care thing. How do I take care of myself amidst life’s many options? Well, I’m pretty good at declining a social invitation if I need to rest instead. Then again, I had dinner guests over on Saturday when all I really wanted to do was get in bed. I made a failed soup — failed because my nose was getting stuffier by the minute and I couldn’t taste what I was making (because I was already stuffy, and because I didn’t want to spread my germs)!

What would happen if everyone cut the B.S. about what they don’t really want to do? I think everyone would have more free time. People would be less crabby about the pleasantries they’ve obligated themselves to. Maybe we’d also be able to see our have-to-dos with more clarity; for some, perhaps a less resentful sense of duty.

I’d type more but the cat is impaling her chin against my fingers. Cats always know what they want.


Tracy November 5, 2010 at 1:53 pm

WOW… This has the wheels turning…LOL! I admit to be a don’t rock the boat type, have been all my life, and only in recent years have given myself the permission to say no, to take better care of me–me on the inside and the outside. As women in our modern society, it’s been years of subtle and not so subtle condition about how we have to do it all, be it all, all for the time. While doing some post yoga journaling just this week I made a huge discovery about how I can ask for something–ask for something for myself–be it help, be it time, be it dream-stoking… Asking the gift of asking. It was a moment. In the past couple of months I’ve been kinder to myself, in allowing more time to take better care of my inner life, which I feel is starting to show in the outer life. Still working on the NO, though… ;o) VERY exciting about your new website in progress, Michelle–can’t wait to see! Happy Weekend ((HUGS))


Elizabeth November 5, 2010 at 10:19 pm

I have been conditioned to not rock the boat. Yes. I learned that my needs aren’t important (and that it’s selfish to have them/take care of them). I am slowly learning that they are important, but it’s slow going. It does help to at least notice what I want and need, and acknowledge it, even if I am not ready to listen. And to sometimes do things that seem nice and comforting, even if they seem unnecessary and indulgent.

I can’t wait to see your new site! How exciting!


JennaFrancisco November 6, 2010 at 3:20 pm

I left a comment on here yesterday and it seems to have disappeared just after I clicked “submit.” Anyway, I loved reading your post because I think we can all relate to it. Boy, it is so hard to be a woman sometimes. I feel pulled in so many different directions, by family, students, colleagues, pets, etc., that it’s almost impossible to put myself first. When was the last time I saw my friends?! However, the Kapha in my husband makes it easy for him to nap, sleep in, or play video games when he needs a break, so I feel entitled to do the same sometimes. I recently started having someone clean my house every other week– it’s not just the extra time it saves me that’s nice, but I love not even having it on my list, not having to think about it at all.
P.S. I think a lot of men feel the same way…?


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: