|Posted on November 8, 2019 at 7:00 AM|
By Diana Scharf
Last week I taught yoga to a class of 6th graders and a class of 7th graders, back to back. As part of our centering (and empowering) process, I went around the circle and asked each student to tell me one reason they are awesome. The 7th graders had no trouble with this whatsoever, as they clearly know they are awesome. The 6th graders, however, were interesting because in addition to telling my why they were awesome, they also wanted to tell me why they were not awesome.
Hold the phone! (Do people still say that?) This is not empowering. We can’t make ourselves feel powerful by admitting our weaknesses. Or can we? This little group of 12 year olds really made me think. For starters, I tweaked their narrative just a little. Instead of saying “I’m not awesome,” I had them say “I am awesome because XYZ, but I would like to work on ABC.” This sounded much better and much more empowering. Not to mention, just plain honest.
None of us are perfect. We all have things about ourselves that can use some improvement. That does not make us any less awesome. We maintain a yoga practice, not a yoga perfect. We can come to yoga and find that we are awesome at some poses, and less awesome at others. Just because we need to work on one area, doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t feel great pride in the areas where we excel. This is true whether we are talking about yoga or about life.
In life, we don’t always get it right every time. But that’s okay, because we keep trying our best. Recognizing one’s limitations is part of being awesome, but so is trying to overcome those limitations. I was actually quite proud of my 6th graders for listing realistic things that they wanted to fix about themselves. Nobody said they wanted to work on becoming a famous or rich or popular. They wanted to work on things like getting to bed earlier and doing better on their math tests. These were all realistic goals, and I predict that these kids will feel a great sense of empowerment once they achieve them.
Most importantly though, when we assess where we need work, it is important to remember those areas where we are strong. This way, we see that there is balance. If we can succeed in those areas of strength, there is hope for those other areas as well. The key is not to define ourselves by what needs work, but to take pride in what makes us awesome. Doing that gives us a great sense of power.