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I recently heard myself say to someone, “Nothing ever turns out the way you expect it to anyway, so why hold rigid expectations?” I recognize that many people who have been in my life over the years might find that shocking and hilarious—so did I.
I don’t think anyone has ever accused me of being too lax. If you can call it an accusation (since it’s based in truth), I’ve certainly been accused of having exceedingly high expectations, of being a profoundly rigid person.
But my body has taught me something about rigidity. I’m naturally inclined towards physical flexibility, and when I started practicing #asana, I always wanted the deepest fold, the longest stretch. I’d wake up the next morning with stiff, immobile muscles. I’d overstretched them, and they were becoming rigid in the aftermath. It was a physical demonstration of self protection. It was an instinctual response.
When I stopped seeing my emotional and relational rigidity as an innate flaw and started seeing it as a reaction to trauma, to emotional overextension, I became able to be more gentle with myself for it. I began to recognize it as something I could actually influence, but certainly not by continuing to overextend my psychological capacities with immutable expectations that kept getting dashed and doing more harm. I had to back off. Just like I had to back off my folds and twists on the mat in order to avoid the resulting stiffness.
I am a softer person for letting ease be one of my guides. I am not a failure for having tried so hard for so long to protect myself by putting rigid, taxing expectations on myself and others, expectations that seemed at the time like they would serve me. But I’m also a more tender, supple being when I remind myself its okay to back off, account for my time and self care, prioritize my boundaries. And in the moments I’m able to be both boundaried and vulnerable, I start to remember what trust feels like. Trust feels like listening to your body when it says you’ve stretched it far enough, like finding refuge in that ease, like understanding that forcing a perception of progress is not the same as nurturing something towar