“Not in My Nature”

The other day a friend and co-worker said to me, “You just have to relaaaaax . . . go with it.” She is a gift, I love her spirit so. I admire her relaxed, confident state of being, she almost never gets ruffled. I love that about her. I envy it at some points, and try to cultivate in myself the traits of hers that I admire, which I think is far more productive than feeling envy.
So, when she said I just have to relax and go with it, in her awesomely calm and mellow tone of voice, the little pessimistic voice in the back of my head responded with:

Not in my nature. I’m a perfectionist.
Translation: I obsess.
Sad fact, realistic truth.

One of my favorite quotes is “All good things in moderation,” and yet “moderation” is a concept with which I have always struggled. It is one I most revere, and yet proves one of the more difficult practices for me to hold onto.

Well, where’s the beauty in this predicament, you ask? Because it surely must be somewhere. Yes, the beauty is here, the silver lining in an otherwise frustrating debacle:

Nobody defines “my nature” but ME.

Nobody defines your nature but YOU.

That’s how it works. That’s one rule that can be set in stone. Yes, certain qualities are hereditary, some attributes are inherent, but for the most part, we can define (and redefine) our nature as we evolve in our own lives. It sounds like a beautiful solution, right? Well I’m not suggesting it’s easy, or even possible for all of us. I think to redefine one’s nature, or certain qualities, takes patience. I think it takes practice. I think it takes dedication of the deepest type.
But the way one dedicates oneself to a partner, a career, a yoga practice, what-have-you, is no different. Again, I am touching on this concept of putting oneself in the same priority category as one would put a loved one or cherished activity. All of the most beautiful bits of our lives take careful tending. Have you ever heard someone say, “Relationships shouldn’t be work.” I have. I’ve heard it from a significant other in reference to a previous partner, complimenting the ease of his relationship with me! I took this statement to heart because, the truth is, in a long-term relationship there will be work, there ought to be work, and it saddened me that he saw work as an end-all. Because I knew we’d someday get to the point where our relationship took some “work” to keep it harmonious, and that we might not make it. We didn’t; but that is not the point.
The truth of the matter is, one “should” work on any human relationship, romantic or other, with as much tender, loving care as one would a garden. Does a garden just grow itself, producing beautiful flowers and tasty vegetables without fertilizing, watering, weeding, maintaining? No, it doesn’t. Most don’t look at the garden as simply a piece of work because the fruits of their labor are so divine. The end-product, the true purpose of having planted a garden in the first place, is so enriching. The tending of the garden is essential to the beauty and sustenance provided by the garden.
The same is true for a relationship.
The same is, again, true for the SELF.

Let us see ourSELVES in the same light as we would a beloved parent, significant other, bursting garden or treasured practice. Let us see ourSELVES as deserving of the gentle, attentive, therapeutic nurturing and bettering process. Let us see ourSELVES as malleable, capable of accomplishing anything.

We can redefine ourselves at any point in our journey, several times over, or never at all. It’s up to us. The potential of the mind is more profound than we can even grasp. Can you imagine that? Even at your mind’s most open, there’s still so much more potential. There’s always something for which to strive. There’s always another step in the process. There’s always another fork in the road of life. You choose which one to take.

So, let me rephrase:

Relaxing and just “going with it” is not in my inherent nature, but stress is toxic in the body. If the alternative to toxically stressing and obsessing is to gently nudge my nature towards a shift, then I most certainly choose the latter. My nature is what I choose for it to be. So, I actively choose to relax. I actively choose to start learning how to “go with it.” I accept that it won’t be like flipping on a light switch, this shift in my nature, this change of my natural reaction to life’s obstacles. I embrace that it may always take me reminding myself in order to be able to relax and go with it when things get sticky; I’d prefer to need a gentle reminder than not try at all. I believe that I am capable of this shift, I believe in myself and my mind’s capacity to open, stretch and incorporate all of the qualities I most desire. I acknowledge that this evolution of “my nature” is exciting, it’s an act of preservation, it’s essential. I recognize that this growth is part of being human. I am grateful for the opportunity to participate in such growth. It is in my nature to choose, learn, accept, embrace, believe, acknowledge, recognize. It is in my nature to be grateful.

It is in my nature to grow . . . and to never stop being amazed by the power of the mind.

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