OK, I have to be honest from the start. When I am conflicted about something I go between being judgmental, compassionate and tolerant. This happens about a number of things, but since we’re talking about being in, and knowing, our bodies, I’ll talk about that first.
I tend to be impatient with people who decide that they can’t do something, with all the reasons they seem to have reinforced for ages. I understand that there is a need to understand what’s behind their inabilities, and pain is no little thing, but since the average person doesn’t know their body, or much about bodies in general, to decide what IS based on that, doesn’t make sense to me.
On the other hand, people think they know their body when they buy into what the media has told them about it, and that also is understandable, as the media has a lot of backing and know-how about how to get ideas across that they want gotten. These may have basis in science, or they may not. Many people were told when young that something specific was going on with some particular part of their anatomy or movement ability. For some reason this happens more often with girls. I’ve heard that feet are too small, necks are too long, breasts are too big, you’re just not build to…, you’re just not coordinated. Do we ever look at animals that way? Aren’t they able to just be what they are, and do what they do?
A cat may be bow legged, but it can still run like a cat. A dog may have short legs, but still moves like a dog. In fact, if you’ve ever seen an animal missing a limb, they don’t seem to notice! So we get judged about what we can do, or should be able to do, based on some often very uninformed, biased opinions, and we let those opinions have more sway with us than our own sense of ourselves.
I get judgmental when someone says, “I was never able to do that.” or “can’t do…because of…”
Now I know I have said those things. But what I have also discovered is that there are other things I can do, often very closely related to what hurts me to do, that I CAN do.
The point is not to give up, to keep trying.
It is so easy to get lazy with pain as an excuse, but it just gets worse if we let that happen, and we get very unhappy with ourselves and our abilities. There is always hope!
That having been said, I often feel compassion, because I have, for however long, been at that self-limiting place. I know what it is to hurt, to not be able to do what it is you specifically want to do. IT’S ESPECIALLY DIFFICULT IF YOU ALWAYS WERE ABLE TO DO IT BEFORE! Things are also difficult if you’ve never done them. They’re difficult if they’re different from things you’ve done. As a martial artist, every time I took a class in a new art, or even yoga or Pilates, I felt like a rank beginner! In fact, I’ve known athletes who never went beyond their own specific activity because they didn’t want to experience that feeling of starting from scratch. If you want something, you have to do something to get it.
The compassion comes in because I do see people suffering. There is physical pain of many sorts. There is emotional pain, which often carries a stigma of shame and self-blame, and which people are remiss to admit to. There is social pain, which comes from feeling like we’re so different, or so much less than we should be in the eyes of our culture. I empathize. No matter how accomplished or lucky someone appears, chances are that they’re not feeling that accomplished, especially women.
I know, and have known, some wonderful people who suffer from both being unable to do what they want to do, and from not allowing themselves to try anything different. It is never too late to do something about that, but you do need a support system, and you do need to constantly be heard, so that it is YOU deciding to do whatever it is you’re attempting.
The tolerance is more of a patience thing. I can say I have gained, over the years, more patience in putting up with peoples’ games. If that sounds like it’s not necessarily good or kind, yeah, that’s about the truth of it. The reality is that we do have to be patient with each other, as well as with ourselves. We have to, at some point, tolerate our issues. Ultimately we aren’t out in the world to change others, but rather to be present with others as they attempt to change, evolve, or whatever you choose to call it. If we are to work with each other, we must meet each other on our own, or their own, ground. it’s the only place to start. Wishing and nagging won’t make it otherwise.