Internal Encouragement: It’s a Choice

by | Mar 14, 2024

A few months ago, I forayed into the world of hot yoga. I was scared. As mentioned, I’m more of a “slow flow” girl. And I hate being hot. 

Today, I brought a towel to class because I’ve found that mid-way through class, I’ve got sweat dripping from all over the place, most interestingly, my shins. The good news: the sweat is no longer from a general fear of what can happen to me in hot yoga but because I’m getting stronger! When Trevor tells us, “Knee to nose and hold it for 5…4…3…2…1…” I’m no longer screaming, “Screw you, Trevor!” in my head. Rather, I’m taunting in an encouraging way…bring it on, Trevor!

Today, on the mat, I noticed a 180-degree turnaround from the voice chatter in my head from where it had been the day before. When things started to get sweaty and shaky, I heard myself saying, “Erin, you can do this. Erin, you’re strong. Focus. Erin, you’re doing it! It’s OK. Skip this, Vinyasa; it’s no biggie. Look, you did an extra vinyasa! Erin, you’re getting stronger. Erin, you’re putting in the work. Keep going. You’re almost to that cold lavender towel!” 

I’m feeling the updrafts today. Yesterday was a whole different vibe. I’ll spare you the details, but there was that moment, and the next thing you knew, I was circling down that spiral as fast as that log drops at Splash Mountain. (My attempt at an amusement park reference when I hate roller coasters.)

The general overview of the downward spin: There’s a lot to keep track of as a solopreneur. Not everyone is great at everything, and I’m currently in charge of everything. It’s a busy season. My style/brain/approach is not conducive to all of the “Top 5 Ways to be Productive” hacks out there. The more I try to adapt them, the more chaotic things become. And sometimes, all that piles up and takes me on a ride. Like a roller coaster ride. Not sweet. 

That’s the current situation. 

Yesterday, I swung “below the line.” I got in the downward spin cycle. It wasn’t pretty.  

Today, things spun up. 

I thought about my “sweat towel” on my walk home from yoga class. I saw the need for that towel as a milestone in yoga. I self-talked-congratulated myself on my progress all throughout practice when things were hard. I thought about how I’ve gotten stronger and more nimble and how I can do poses I couldn’t do a few weeks ago. All while encouraging myself and pushing myself. I can see the progress. I am focused on the progress. 

Then I thought about my work. 

Where’s my sweat towel marker for work? 

At work, don’t see it. It’s slow going. It’s hard to see. But it’s there. If I see it or not. It might not make my shins sweat, but progress is happening. 

On the way home, I thought, what if I shift the focus, shift the energy to all that’s not happening, not going on, all that I’m not doing to, “Dude, Erin, remember when you didn’t know how to edit a video? Remember when you didn’t know how to put a link in an email? Remember when you had no idea how to add people to an email list? Or what to put in a proposal? Or what to write a newsletter?!?!”

The day before had ended with a crash and burn. Today, it was as if I had exhausted myself from the previous day’s downward spiral because the minute things started to get hard at yoga, instead of crapping on myself, I made the choice to do the opposite. Something inside said, “Maybe try a different approach, Erin, because that felt real lame yesterday and got you nowhere. Maybe try some encouragement?”

It was a HARD class. And I kicked its 🍑.

With that in mind, thinking about my work, thinking about how far I’ve come and all that I’ve done, the spiral started its upswing. 

Rather, my narrative started the upward spiral. 

Same situation. Same circumstances. Different take. Different choice on how to look at it. Different narrative. 

There’s always going to be that moment, that inflection point, that time when we get to make that choice. Do I spiral up? Or take that shit-storm train down the tracks?

Today, yoga reminded me I get to make the choice. 

When you’re in the downward spin, tap into the encouraging voice. Pause. Take a look at your benchmarks–not massive ones, small ones. Ask yourself:

  • What do I know how to do today that I didn’t a month ago? 
  • What is one thing I did today that is getting me where I want to go? 
  • What is one thing today I can celebrate?

My yoga teachers always offer words of encouragement throughout practice. They normally kickstart the internal voice of encouragement. Hopefully, you’ve got an external voice of encouragement. If you’re a leader, have you encouraged your team lately? 

If you don’t have that external voice, know that you always have an internal narrative happening. You can choose what that storyline is. You can choose encouragement, and acknowledgment, and work your way up that spiral. 

You can choose to pause, offer yourself a little encouragement, and see how far you’ve come. Reverse the downward drain and lift it up.


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