Again I’m in the middle of a yoga practice, and again the instructor has something worthwhile to share.
“You know that voice in the back of your head that’s telling you that you can’t do this, or that you’re doing it wrong?” she questions, “Well, just stop it.”
Laughter rumbles through the studio, as we all strive to hold our pose.
“But that’s hard to do,” she adds.
It is hard to do. Or, to write (and think) more positively, it can be hard to do, but I’m – somewhat miraculously – getting better at it.
There’s a famous Bob Newhart skit, where Bob plays a therapist and a woman comes into his office looking for his help and support. He listens to her for a few minutes, and then he says, “Stop it!” In fact, he shouts it. She is startled and upset, and continues her explanation of her fears and the awful things she experiences. “Stop it!” he yells at her again and again.
When I first saw this skit, I laughed as most people do. But it also upset me. As someone who has turned to therapists as a resource, I felt a bit of horror at how he treated her. I have two therapists whom I credit with helping me, in many ways, save my life and soul. They would never have shouted “Stop it!” at me. I knew his response was a skit. A joke. Still it bothered me.
But when my yoga instructor offered that we simply “Stop it” I wasn’t bothered. I was inspired. Because while Bob Newhart’s response was cruel (and funny), there is something in the belief – the knowledge – that I can simply stop some of the less-than-desirable thoughts in my head. In some ways, he was right.
“Stop it!” I can say to myself when the negative tapes kick in. “Stop it!” I can offer – hopefully lovingly and with a smile on my face – when I start to doubt myself or berate myself. When I give in to self-defeating thoughts, or even non-loving thoughts towards others. Or when I can’t hold a yoga pose. “Stop it!”
I can replace the thoughts that no longer serve me with thoughts that are soothing. I can remind myself that all is well and that I am loved. And lovable. And that I love to love. I can bask in the sunshine, enjoy the moment, laugh at a joke (even the Bob Newhart skit), and know my yoga pose is fine.
I can just “Stop it!”
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