Can a calling be selfish and selfless at the same time?

As a yoga instructor, I teach numerous classes in studios and gyms and work privately with folks like you who are looking to create unique, individualized practices. As an eating psychology coach I can also teach you how to uncover and process deeper issues with relationships, body image, depression, anxiety, and trauma that often underlie your emotional eating behaviors. I teach people like you how to breathe, how to relax, how to meditate, how to make time to be healthier and happier in the context of their crazy lives. I teach you because I truly want to help you, and would like to make a difference in the world. But I also teach for completely selfish reasons: I teach YOU to keep myself sane.

There, I said it.

After teaching a yoga class at one of my gyms the other day, I had a lovely exchange with a new student. She told me how much she liked her second ever class; in particular, how soothing and calming my voice was.

I thanked her and smiled at her comment, although maybe not for the reasons you’d think.

My “non-yoga” voice is typically high pitched and squeaky. I talk fast, and sometimes two words mush together in bizarre ways as they make their way out of my mouth at the same time; other times I can’t think of the word at all and sound like a babbling idiot. If I’m honest with myself, I’m often overly critical and sound like one or both of my parents (not a good thing). And all too often I give voice to the abundance of automatic negative thoughts that run rampant in my mind.

I don’t teach yoga because I don’t have issues. I teach yoga because when I do, I become more of the person I’d prefer to be all the time: calm, grounded, peaceful, content, grateful. And I sound like her too! No matter what’s happening in my life or no matter how I feel personally before teaching, I have to put these things aside, and give you the safe, soothing experience YOU need. And as a result, I change for the better.

Similarly, a few weeks ago, a feisty coaching client (who had made great progress over several weeks and whose energy showed it!) used part of her session to turn the tables. She asked some pointed questions about me which I answered honestly. She seemed surprised that I still shared many of her struggles. It’s true that I know how to get deep into the muck, and various techniques to make things a little better. I know that it’s not always about what it seems to be about (i.e. the food). I know that it’s hard to do things differently. I know what it’s like to feel like you’ve failed.

Believe it or not, I’m not at home eating healthy, practicing yoga, and meditating all the time.

I’ve been through (and continue to go through) a lot. There are still (many) days when I feel lost and alone, like I’m an alien creature who doesn’t quite belong in any human circle. I still fumble my relationships. I eat entire bags of chips or cookies or popcorn sometimes too. I still struggle with anxiety and depression and some days when it’s really bad, I want to crawl into a hole and not do anything.

And, when you come to me with a health concern or challenge, know that it’s most often because we are more similar than you might imagine! We likely resonate with each other because I’m like you. And I can help you because I’m like you–because I understand. I’ve just been working on this stuff for a LONG LONG time. And like anything else, the more time, energy, and effort you put into something, the more you learn, the more you know, and the more you can share with others.

I am a teacher, a coach, and a real person. Sometimes what keeps me going is knowing that I can help you experience your body differently, or that I can help you make new connections and see things a little differently.

So, maybe it’s selfless or selfish, or a bit of both. Shall we keep helping each other through this journey called life? I hope so.

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