When my youngest daughter was seven years old, she asked me if I had ever broken a promise to myself.
My heart dropped…she just lost her innocence, I thought.
The moment when you decide to not live in alignment to your values is when we no longer feel that sense of wholeness or self-acceptance, and so we create a living hell, rather than a heaven. The opposite is when we actually achieve what we set out to achieve and so we feel comfortable within ourselves. Content.
In yoga, this deal breaking, is called the seer/doer split. The seer/doer split happens any time we make a deal with ourselves, like “I am going to start running five miles per day” or “I am going to stop eating sugar” and then we witness ourselves break this deal, over and over again.
When we experience this, we are not living in accordance with our values and so we are entangled in the residue of our actions.
I asked her what she did, and she said that she made the promise to only eat the cookies for snacks at school, and then had one at home.
I suggested that she replace the words only with open, always with patience, and never with listen—this is an example of something that I would do as I was working to create a more compassionate space for myself.
She looked a little confused, like she didn’t quite understand what I was saying…she is only seven...I thought.
So I opted for another route that I hoped would get to her through her emotions, since emotions are the impressions that create memory.
I asked her how it felt to break a promise to herself for the first time.
I expected her to say that she felt bad for breaking the promise to herself.
I have spent many sessions as a yoga therapist and Ayurveda wellness counselor trying to merge the seer/doer split. My purpose there is to get people to align their vision with their actions to create a mission.
Plus, as a person with a highly addictive personality, I know this seer/doer split well.
Her response was pure brilliance:
“I feel okay, because it was just too good!”
Changing my words to open, patience and listen when making deals and plans with myself is a preliminary course of action—but what do we do when we do catch ourselves out of alignment with “our plan?”
Kids are not worried about failing—they allow themselves to play, be open, be patient.
They listen to how actions make them feel from moment to moment.
My daughter couldn’t comprehend the knowledge I was trying offer because she had the embodied wisdom of a child. With that one phrase, she had broken through the karma associated with the “type A” personality through the beauty of her innocence.
Sticking to our word is important, both in our relationships with others and ourselves—but sometimes it’s okay to offer some space with this.
The word balance also shows up in my work—it means to evenly distribute the weight.
I think of that as not carrying it all on our own.
Since change is the only constant, and we seek to be present and new, then we should not take everything so seriously.
Let yourself off the hook and allow yourself to play, be in the flow, and rest in our innocence.
Author: Dani McGuire
Editor: Renée Picard
Image: Thomas Kelley/Unsplash