It is hard for me sometimes to realize that I have nearly half a century of living under my belt and I still have so many doubts. Oh, and fears. And also so many worries.
I should have done this. I could have done that. Am I doing it right?
According to my yoga teacher, Adriene, by the way, the answer to that last question is YES.
Of course, here she is talking about a mat maneuver called “cat/cow” and not about whether I should have attempted to spray paint my car without reading the instructions first, or whether it was a good idea to spend all of last night reading my stack of tiny house library books rather than writing to earn rent money.
So I suppose it is all relative.
Still, this morning when I heard Adriene say, “If you are wondering if you are doing it right, the answer is YES,” it felt really GOOD. I felt so reassured! For just a moment, the tiniest instant of instants, the merest flash of flashes, all seemed right with my world.
I am doing it RIGHT. Oh. thank. goodness.
And yet it seems somehow, well, wrong that doing things wrong has gotten such a bad rap.
To hear evolutionary biologists tell it, doing things wrong again and again is actually how a species evolves. It is also how individuals within that species become fitter than their peers and get to pass along their DNA to the next generation.
After all, if we rewind our shared history back far enough, we were all identical single-celled organisms swimming together in the murk of the primordial soup. Then evolution began and some of us popped out fins while our soup-mates grew legs. Still others turned furry tufts into feathers which then produced wings.
Then one species decided to stand upright, shed most of their hair, grow thumbs and make fire (which I would imagine took a great deal of trial and error to work out). But that one little failure-turned-success propelled my particular species to the top of the food chain….where we have stayed ever since.
So failure, yes. Doing things wrong, yes. That long string of oopses I see when I look back over my 47 and a half years to date. Yes. Yes to trial and error, to “how hard could it be,” to “well that sure wasn’t how I thought things would turn out.” Yes to growth, to making new neural connections, to that strange seeping abrasion now forming around my ears because I thought trying out a new hair dye brand was a really great idea.
And yet I can’t shake it – I want to know I am doing it – whatever it is – right. Sometimes, when I have worked myself into a near-panic yet again while ruminating about my latest string of oh-so-wrongs, I have to just take a big deep breath and say to myself, “It is okay. You are not supposed to get everything right. You are not supposed to do everything right. No one does everything right. You are doing just fine.”
This feels pretty good. It feels better. It feels like I can go ahead and breathe again now. I can take that big deep in-breath and then let it out loudly enough for those around me to hear it. I can take my shoulders down from around my ears now and let them settle back into place once more.
But it still doesn’t feel as good as being right. Perhaps it never will.
Today’s Takeaway: Right now (or whenever you feel like it), just stop and say to yourself, “You are doing it right.” How does this feel? Do you notice a slight lessening of that tight, tense feeling in your chest? Does your breath flow in and out just a little bit more easefully? Is it easier to smile? To laugh? To laugh at yourself, at whatever-it-is you might have just done (or be about to do) wrong? I’d love to hear your reactions to this whole conundrum of right-versus-wrong!