what does ‘doing it right’ mean anyway?

where (and why) do we look to measure how we're doing it right?

Where (and why) do we look to measure whether we’re ‘doing it right’ ? What does doing it right mean anyway?

Twice in a row this week, I happened to be sweating it up on my yoga mat next to enthusiastic beginners. And I’m talking never done yoga before – let alone this fast-paced power yoga style stuff – and in a heated room to boot! Both times I was thoroughly impressed. They were keen, engaged, and kept up completely! It was inspiring… I love watching people achieving things, and getting into these weird positions they never thought possible.

I also couldn’t help but notice how intently their eyes were on the other students in the room. ‘Is my left hand where it’s supposed to be?’ ‘Did he really just say that?’ ‘Now what the heck is that pose supposed to look like?!?’ And it makes sense… I mean if you are being told to contort your body in ways you didn’t know it could go, you may want some guidance and assurance. And yet, even when they had listened to the direction, and had successfully brought themselves to the ‘correct’ posture, they were still eyeing the other bodies around them… to check in? To compare with? To ensure everyone else also looked as silly as they perhaps felt they looked?

Now being a newbie in a yoga class is one thing… I’m sure the majority of folk want to make sure their downward facing dog is looking how it’s ‘supposed’ to look. But I don’t think the studio is the only place we tend to look to others to judge how we are doing ourselves…

Why do we always need to check in to see if we’re doing things the ‘right way’? And who’s to say our neighbour is the expert in terms of what the right way is anyhow?

It brought me back to my first year of theatre school. Picture this keen go-getter: private school graduate, head prefect of her boarding house, captain of the field hockey team, peer counselor, lead in school play, the choir, concert band, awards, scholarships, 93% average… the girl who needed the approval, and was pretty good at ‘playing the game’ in order to receive it. And then all of a sudden she’s being asked in her acting class to partake in an exercise whereby she must roll around on the ground expressing whatever emotion she felt using only the word ‘ahhh’. WHAT?!? How was I supposed to do that? I needed more direction! What was it supposed to look like? Which way was I supposed to move to ensure I got an ‘A’? And how should my ‘ahhs’ sound? How do I do it ‘right’? And to top it all off, we had to do this exercise with our eyes closed!

It was horrific. I felt like I just didn’t get it… I felt silly. I felt fake. I totally doubted myself. And I was constantly sneakily opening my eyes just enough to peak at what everyone else was doing. Was I doing it ‘right’?

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the only exercise of its kind I had to endure that first year. I almost failed. The feedback I received from my professors at my end-of-year audition was that I seemed to be constantly going outside of myself to seek approval. ‘Stop trying to please Daddy’ I remember so vividly one of them saying. And he was right. I totally was.

I was struggling so hard to ‘do it right’ – and failed to see the whole point was to realize there was no way to do it right; nor was there a way to do it wrong. The only way to do it was to do it my way.

Although I’ve come a long way, I still sometimes struggle with wanting to do it right, or to look good, or to seek approval. And then I start to compare. And then I doubt myself. I get scared I’ll make a mistake. Do it the wrong way. Or the not-as-good-as-her way. And so what do I do?

Nothing. I get down and I give up.

Here’s the thing. Whenever I seek another’s approval, I am giving up my own power. Whenever I am comparing myself to someone else, it’s like saying they are the authority on what’s best for me and my life. And when I am trying to do it ‘right’, chances are I am not acting from my heart, from inside.

As cliché as it is, I will never be good at trying to be like anyone else, or do what anyone else does. I will only ever be good at being me. And not only that, I am the best in the world at being me!

And so are you.

Stop looking around, seeing how you measure up, comparing your warrior pose to that student in the front row.

Find your pose. your path. your way. You are the only expert on your journey… so spend more time checking in with yourself, and less time checking in with those around you.

I’m pretty sure what you’ll find is that you are pretty darn amazing.

Have a FAB week, everyone!

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Carol Schulte

Carol is a published author, has been featured in numerous magazines and podcasts, and is a returning guest expert on Rogers TV. Having lived and worked in 16 countries including Ashrams in India and vans in New Zealand, rocked dreadlocks in Thailand and shaved her head for breast cancer, she certainly walks her talk and brings a global perspective to all she does. When she’s not traveling or speaking on stage, you can find her volunteering as a bereavement facilitator, training for her next triathlon, or practicing her serious carpool karaoke game.

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