The Blog

Who likes being a beginner?!?


Awkward. Uncomfortable. Frustrating. All those plus a good dose of shame.

When I first began teaching yoga 6 years ago. I felt like a big fraud. No lie, I took a Xanax just to get through class because I was so stressed. Intimidated. So afraid someone would be disappointed in the class I taught.

This is known as ‘imposter syndrome‘; the condition of feeling anxious and not experiencing
success internally, despite being high-performing in external, objective ways. It makes people
feel like a fraud or a big ol’ phony, doubting their own abilities.

Shame in midlife due to the ego

So many women I work with are having to learn a lot in such a little time. They have to learn to be an empty nester, learn how to care for or grieve parents, they have to learn how to care for themselves while trying to care for the ones they love and it can be exhausting.

If I am really honest, I have never enjoyed being a beginner or learning new stuff either. It didn’t
matter if it was water skiing, snow skiing, learning to dive, teach, learning how to build my own
business – the process of learning how to be a beginner at anything was not fun to me. My ego
always got in the way.
It has taken lots of thought management work to enjoy the process and
not just be connected to the outcome.

In the book “Ego is the Enemy” Ryan Holiday wrote –

“The ego we see most commonly goes by a more casual definition: an unhealthy belief in our own importance. Arrogance. Self-centered ambition… It’s that petulant child inside every person, the one that chooses getting his or her way over anything or anyone else. The need to be better than, more than, recognized for, far past any reasonable utility — that’s ego. It’s the sense of superiority and certainty that exceeds the bounds of confidence and talent.”

Ouch. Me? Egotistical?

The ego makes it very hard to learn new things. I am not sure if I would
go so far as to say my ego is my enemy, it’s a part of me. It is who I am. But left unchecked, the
ego can do some harm.
Think of it like a toddler left alone with a sharpie. Not good.

When you desire to be perceived as the smartest boss, the beloved mom, the best negotiator,
the kindest woman, the funniest guy, the most creative writer, the best yoga teacher, fill in
your own blank – you allow your ego to take over.

You self-identify with a single aspect of yourself — preserving that perfect image becomes a
life-or-death matter. It makes learning new things almost impossible because you are afraid of
looking foolish. It feels silly.

As humans, we are all self-absorbed. I still flinch when I write that, but we are!

“Why is this happening to me? Nobody listens to ME.” We have a tendency to make everything about me-me-me. With an unhealthy ego, we can compare ourselves to others, which creates self-doubt. We can feel disappointed when we are constantly pursuing endless ambitions.

Midlife ego

The Latin root word of ego means “I”. — We gotta get out of our head and learn to tame our
minds. Learning to accept feedback is crucial. Most of us will get a bit rigid when someone
offers critical feedback or accountability. We fight back when someone offers criticism
because if people dislike us, our whole identity would collapse. (Coaches tip: if you are the one that is offering critical feedback, ALWAYS start with things they are doing well – it’s the same with your kids, marriage, and work).

Letting go of the constructed ideas of who you are. Sounds really good in theory, but it can be a
bit painful. Most of the ideas of who we are were created when we were kids. “You’re the
smart one, you’re the funny one, you’re the (fill in the blank).” We turn something very good or
bad about us into our identity — balancing your ego is accepting all your sides, rather than
exaggerating one.

Here are 5 ways to know if your ego is running the show during middle age

You always have to have more; nothing is good enough
You have to be right
Do you always feel tense? Uncomfortable, and overwhelmed with stress
Things get too serious, and nothing feels like fun
You must always be winning and you hate losing

Don’t panic-this happens to the best of us.

There is a solution, and it begins with awareness. Thats it. You just notice. Try not to judge it. Just notice it. We don’t buy into the illusion of the ego — we are more than that.

To learn to self-reflect and be able to watch yourself from a distance – to observe our thoughts
without judging
is such a game changer! I know this stuff can feel a little uncomfortable. Its okay. Notice that too.

Remember your identity isn’t a finished product, rather that a work in progress. Everything is changing. You can allow yourself to make mistakes, you can adopt a beginner mindset, you can learn to focus on
the effort not the outcome, choose purpose over passion, and forget about credit or recognition.

Its a practice making peace with the ego. She creeps back in sometimes as shame or pride. Mostly, in not asking for help. The more I practice letting go of these things the easier it becomes. It is a daily practice of telling myself that I do not need to be more than I am to be loved. I am me. God says he is okay with that, so I lean into that every day.

Self love in midlife through ego work

“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” ― Rumi

That quote always makes me giggle… I wonder what my 20 something year old self would think
of me now?

Hey! If I haven’t told you lately. Thank you. Thank you for reading and spending time with either
through my blogs, yoga classes or being coached. I am not sure if I have the words to
adequately tell you what a blessing it is to continue to share with you all the things that have
helped me get to where I am today. I am blessed.

Your presence is always a blessing.

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