Those who know me well know that I throw myself entirely into every task, project, or idea I’ve ever had. I create, establish, execute, and solve problems. I am hard-working, organized, and responsible. Because I demand a lot from myself, I demand a lot from others. And not surprisingly, I often feel like my efforts are underappreciated. This is when I have to stop and take inventory of my actions. For whom am I working so hard? Why does it matter what others think? Is there the tiniest possibility that I immerse myself in situations like this to perpetuate an old pattern?!
As a yoga practitioner, I’ve tried various techniques over the years to deal with that “underappreciated” feeling in different arenas of my life (whether it be work, relationships, friendships, or personal endeavors) and often I struggle to find compassion for myself and others, practice non-judgment, forgive, or be in the present moment. Yes once in a great while, the yoga path almost feels like a betrayal.
Let me explain.
In 1988, I was bullied by my fellow classmates (thank god there was no such thing as social media back then!) and my parents eventually had to transfer me to another school. I’ll be honest: I used to feel resentful that my parents hadn’t taught me to fight or speak up for myself. Instead, my parents raised my siblings and I to be kind, respectful, and decent human beings. I even recall my father telling us to “turn the other cheek”…another way of saying “Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you” (Luke 6:27). When I learned how disrespectful people could be, this also felt like a betrayal.
Yoga is the same. It’s easy to forget that we can be isolated in our journey and we wonder how people in this world can forget to appreciate one another. So remember: feeling underappreciated is okay. But allowing that to define you is relinquishing all power.
The next time you feel like you’re on a bumpy road, ask yourself Byron Katie’s four questions:
- Is it true? (Yes or no. If no, move to 3.)
- Can you absolutely know that it’s true? (Yes or no.)
- How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
- Who would you be without the thought?
Chances are there’s someone in your life who appreciates all that you do. Focus your attention on that road instead.