How many times have you done the “I don’t really like this? I want out,” but you feel like you can’t because of other people’s expectations, pressures, or because there are authority figures who say otherwise . When someone gives you a strong message that you have to do something, some of us feel the pull more strongly than others.
I had my own experience with feeling the need to please and not knowing when to listen to my own needs versus other people’s expectations when I tried a hot yoga class a few weeks ago.
Hot Yoga is a special yoga technique where you do yoga in a room that is approximately 100+ degrees and very humid. It is supposed to give your body the opportunity to really stretch when the muscles are that warm.
I tried the class while on summer break in Destin, Florida, a beautiful beach community on the Gulf Coast. Being an Alabama girl, I do feel relaxed hanging with my Southern roots every now and then. The Gulf Coast in the summer feels like home to me, despite Chicago being my city the rest of the year.
I agreed to do the class because I had always been curious, and my husband really wanted me to do it with him. My goal was to try to get in at least 45 minutes of the class. However, before starting I was feeling really nervous. Thinking about being in a boiling room with sweating, stinking strangers grossed me out a little. I do have a weirdly sensitive nose. (I can smell the kind of shampoo someone is using if downwind…) If the room was rank, my stink detector would be a huge disadvantage. I was also nervous about the physical discomfort.
Enter At Your Own Risk
We entered a warm, fiercely tropical room where we laid down our mats. I immediately started sweating and found it difficult to breathe in the humid air. I declared in my mind that I COULD HANDLE THIS. Just maybe. Then my husband turned to me and says, “They haven’t turned the heaters on yet. It is going to get a lot hotter. He points to these mega heater blowing fans at the top corners of the rooms.
I start to feel the beginning of panic. Think soothing thoughts, therapist girl. So I started bringing in positive, encouraging self-talk .What calmed me down was the thought, “I can always leave, right? I have options.” This stymied the fear…
The yoga instructor, I will call her Yoga Girl, announces that we are about to begin. “For the newbies, please know that you are NOT to leave. It is only an hour and a half. No matter what your mind tells you about having to leave this class, you will NOT listen to it. You will ignore your mind.”
Then she says if you feel like you have to vomit, faint or die, than you should just lie down on the mat, in a fetal position but STAY IN THE ROOM. Her voice has begun to echo in my head. Staaaayy…..Inn…….Roooooooommmm….Is all I hear.
Lie In A Fetal Position?
What? There is no way I will lay into a fetal position if my mind starts telling me I have to get the hell out of there. Then she ties it off with a “And if you die, just know that if you die doing yoga, you will go straight to heaven!” Cackling laugh. O-M-G! (To be fair, I am sure it was only a cackling laugh in my mind;)
At My Limit
An hour goes by. I am at my limit. I want to leave. But I don’t. I don’t because I don’t want to deal with Yoga Girl, I don’t want to interrupt the class, I don’t want to break “the rules”. And I know Yoga Girl is gonna’ freak out if I leave. She has a dedication to staying in this class that is hardcore. The other reason I suspect Yoga Girl may get all huffy is because she is just a little bit critical. For example, she told the girl in front of the class repeatedly that “if you don’t start stretching your back out, honey, you are gonna’ be one of those humpbacked old grandmas pretty soon. You don’t want that do ya? Be a humpbacked ole’ lady?”. I hoped that the girl with the potential humpback found this input as amusing as I did. Let’s hope.
I sat there sweating and nauseated and remembered all of the times I did what other people wanted or felt peer pressure to go with the flow, or to say “yes” when I really wanted to say “no”. I decided I was done. Cooked. Time to bust a move. So I got up and left. Yoga Girl was upset and ran behind me. She was peppering me with the need to stay in the room but I calmly and firmly let her know that I was physically fine, but I was ready to stop. She visibly appeared upset. And that’s ok. Every person is not going to go along with how you want to do things some times. Accepting this and giving the other person the grace to let them be upset is good for both parties.
I try not to do anything in my life anymore out of fear of what people will think and what might happen. I try not to be rude, but sometimes people take things as rude regardless of your intention. This was one of those situations that we all get in at times. Everyone feels pressure from others to do or not do what everyone else is doing. For women, I think this pressure is sometimes tougher to break because of the pleasing societal expectation that have.
Saying No Or Doing What You Know Is Right For You Can Be A Challenge
Interestingly, I spent time with a girlfriend from middle school later in the day who happens to live in the area. She told me a hilarious story about how her husband volunteered her to head up the football parent coordination committee.
She then told the coach that it was a mistake and that she didn’t wasn’t going to do it. She had to say no repeatedly, over and over, to several people. In response, the coach was angry at her for months and went out of his way to ignore her as a form of punishment. Annoying! Despite this, sometimes we just gotta’ do what is right for us. No matter what anyone else does, says, or thinks.
Have you ever felt pressured to keep doing something you didn’t want to do? Ever went along with things for fear of embarrassment?
To put you in an end of summer fun mood, here’s Smile by Uncle Kracker on Grooveshark.
I am interested in hearing your view point and interested in hearing from you. If you ever have comments or thoughts you would like to share with me without commenting in the comment section, just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pics are from the yoga shop at Destin Yoga. I recommend it.