I planned to have a pain free child labour with my first baby and breast feed him until he was at least a couple of years old. I can already hear some of you laughing at the idea… BUT, I had done the reading and watched the beautiful hypno-birthing videos, in which the mothers said they felt no pain, only some pressure. I was convinced that I could achieve this. I also held onto the notion that if I could breast feed then my baby would somehow be the perfect mother, and I wasn’t about to settle for anything less.
It is probably obvious by now that none of my expectations came into fruition.
My birth (both of them, actually) was horrendously painful, in fact, I had no idea that much pain was possible in a person without them dying as a result. Here was my first lesson in humility, and humility is where the niceness is at. When someone is humble, they can’t help but be nice; it is the inevitable result. My next lesson came with the catastrophe that was breast feeding. I won’t go into detail (you can exhale now), suffice it to say however, I failed to have the experience I had been expecting. I simply couldn’t believe that it was all so hard! All of it.
I suddenly stopped judging the mother I saw feeding her baby formula. I no longer believed that women shouldn’t choose to have c-sections or epidurals. I now understood what women everywhere went through; my mother with me and her mother with her. Empathy is a powerful transformational tool. Also, all of this started the process of breaking down the walls that prevented me from loving myself and it’s only when you truly value yourself that you are able to treat people with loving kindness. Actually, as I write this, it becomes blatantly obvious that having self worth and loving yourself is the key to experiencing empathy and so effectively IT is the reason I am a nicer person.
We are only able to see others worth if we first see it in ourselves, isn’t it? (I love how Indian yogi masters say this!) If we cannot recognise that, we ourselves are masterpiece of universal law, then how can we see it in others? We can’t. It is for this reason that people can be cruel to one another, even if they have shared the same experience; the empathy won’t be there unless there is a solid sense of self worth. When I look at my students in class I see such beauty and feel a strong connection to each of them, even if it’s their first time with me. I understand that every person is trying their best no matter what they are able to do during that hour. I began to realise that mat practice (yoga) is the perfect metaphor for life and if I can give these students this level of understanding then why shouldn’t I give this to every person in my life? It became clear to me that I needed to live like I teach, because just like the yoga class students, everyone else in my life (including myself) were doing the best they could, even if it didn’t seem like it at the time.
I still get into heated discussions or become disappointed by a person’s actions, including my own, but these days I deal with it differently. I learn from my mistakes instead of making the same one again and again… and again. I have also learned not to take everything personally, because not everything is about me (which was a real shock to me). I definitely don’t live for drama anymore and I am the happiest I have ever been.
So, how does one know when they love themselves? I knew that I actually finally felt love for myself when I looked inside and I could feel an unwavering sensation of safety, connectedness and joy. This is why my hardest times helped me to build self worth, and have subsequently made me, a nicer person.