The Worrier to Warrior Blog
Weekly Reclamations of a Courageous Heart
ANXIETY VS. TRUTH
In this second blog in the series – “Easing Anxiety Through the Paths of Yoga”, we turn to another “yama” or “personal vow” outlined within yoga philosophy. The next ethical observance at the heart of the practice is “Satya”, which means “truthfulness” or “non-lying”. What’s interesting about the suggested focus points to use when dedicating ourselves to the art of paying attention to our lives, is the opportunity to cultivate the opposite. Rather than only focusing on being truthful, the teachings suggest practicing restraint over lying. This is helpful because the truth can be elusive.
Anxiety, shame and perfectionism can be partially defined as unquestioned, untrue thinking. But, until we experience the freedom of new perspectives, we may be imprisoned in lies about ourselves and our lives. Many of us are unintentionally living from lies. Our inner voice, which is a compilation of internalized messaging we’ve taken in from our families of origin, community, media etc. is generally a repetitive loop of useless information.
We’re on the receiving end of a judgmental soundtrack that is our negativity bias and the song that’s on repeat is called “not good enough”. Not a good enough mother, friend, teacher, employee, manager, writer, daughter, listener, communicator, lover, time manager, dieter, meditator, worker, saver, dater…we know our personal places of unworthiness by heart.
What happens when you begin to look inside with an eye for deep truth? Bringing curious awareness to the quality of your thoughts is step one. Consider an area of your life where you feel insecurity. What are the thoughts that come up as you attend to this area? Write your thoughts down. Rinse them out. Read over your doubts and fears and begin to question them. Are they true? What thoughts can be attributed to the unhealthy side of shame? Shame can either be shifted into responsibility as we use it to guide us toward living truthfully, or it can shroud our sense of self and cause us to avoid and shrink from the truth of who we are.
The Anatomy of a Thought
The thoughts we have about ourselves, the people we love and the people we “other” (sever ourselves from due to cultural or ideological differences, comparison or assuming the role of the victim, villain or any archetype that promotes the illusion of separateness) originate from our beliefs. We believe things even if we’re not conscious of them. The beliefs are so deeply ingrained we think, speak and act based on them.
Meaning, the beliefs we carry, fuel our thoughts and feelings.
We take actions based on those feelings and the results from actions based on untrue thinking can reinforce the original belief, which only causes it to root itself deeper. As we mature emotionally, we might suspect that what we believe may be hurting us more than helping us. We then begin the meaningful and often challenging work of “self study” (another branch of the tree of yoga).
An old belief of mine was that self-study was “navel-gazing”; a self-indulgent waste of time. Rather than blindly go on believing my own judgment, I can question if that thought is true and where it might have come from.
Many of us learned early on that hard work and hustle is “good” and that time spent without achievement and profit is “bad”. Through that lens, we might feel guilt and overwhelm about the way we use our time. Overwhelm and other negative emotions deplete us and prevent us from showing up in the full truth of who we are. Questioning that belief allowed me to break out of the narrow box of “who I am” and discern what other lies make up the foundation of my personality.