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Constantly assessing our own self-worth by using other’s opinions of us as a credible yard stick is pretty disastrous.

When I mentor other teachers quite often the bulk of my work is in trying to help them understand that the greatest value in what they are doing and in what they offer to others is how they feel about it themselves.  Is what they are sharing an authentic representation of their own knowledge and skills and have they experienced it in their own lives? Without the feedback of others would they feel that they personally place value in what it is they are doing? Do they recognise that their self worth might be linked too closely to the praise OR criticism of those who, to put it bluntly, may be singing from a different song sheet or do not have the experience or even sensitivity to appraise adequately?

I share this because yesterday I felt this in my own practice. I thought twice about sharing this but being the beast that I am I feel this has relevance to many friends and students….

I spent this weekend on the Isle of Wight teaching workshops to a big group of yogis. I shared with them practices and sequences which are dear to my heart and what’s more I offered them from a very raw place of authenticity – they mean a lot to me, it took some time for me to get to this place of integrity in my own practice, a lot of dirt shovelling and self-reflection, a lot of questioning what it is I do, how I do it and why. Anyway upon leaving the IOW I received some news from someone which basically I saw as a reflection of their lack of belief in me and the practices I teach. At exactly the same time I received an email from a student who’d been at my IOW workshops and who’d had a pretty deep and cathartic experience. I immediately caught myself in the moment of self sabotage – they think, therefore I am.

A dear friend of mine once gave me probably one of the most important pieces of advice I’ve received in my life to date. ‘Do not give your power away’. It seems very simple but if you consider it for a moment how often do we do this and in how many situations? How often do you allow what someone else is thinking about your life/ actions/ behaviour/ circumstances/ mode of thinking etc to actually reset your internal compass? How often do you give your power away to someone who literally does not deserve it and has no idea about your life? More importantly do you recognise that in giving your power away freely you actually throw yourself into turbulence and that very act is like kryptonite for self-worth? Put aside self-worth for a moment, how do you think giving your power away alters your creativity, passion, vitality or taints the mere enjoyment of doing something you love?

I re-posted a brilliant article recently on the ‘Hidden Danger of Comparing Yourself to Others’ which discussed the pitfalls of judging your own work and comparing it to that of others. It contained one of my favourite all time quotes from the brilliant Martha Graham:

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.”

The same can be said for allowing other’s opinions of you or your work to alter your self-worth and therefore shape what it is you give to the world. I always ask the teachers I mentor, ‘Do you love what it is you are doing? Does it have value to you? Does it make you come alive?’ In our socially switched on world, we have become obsessed with the idea of receiving positive feedback or showing the world how popular we are and like dogs excited to please we wait to receive pats on the heads for the tricks we do. It is kind of ridiculous when you break it down and giving too much weight to other’s blocks our unique expression .

Stop giving your power away. Your self-worth is directly linked to how you feel about yourself, your value does not decrease based on someone’s inability to see it – they have their own stuff going on, their own model of framework…. it does not matter what they think, it matters how much power you allow them to have.

Sarah Jeffs