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Releasing "Good" and "Bad" Labels

Updated: Dec 7, 2023

by Erika

It's not about being good at something, It's about being good to yourself. ~ Yogi Malik

My son is swimmer. Recently several of his high school teammates joined his year-round swim team. A friend of mine, one of the other “Swim Moms", knew that I worked out while he was at practice because I live too far away to drive home and back every day. She was in the same boat and asked if she could join me. I, of course, said yes and let her know that some days I walked; others I ran. Sometimes I did yoga, and others I did strength training/calisthenics. Heck, some days I just sleep in my car! She was on board, except, she said, “I am bad at yoga.”

Recognizing the Labels We Use

I thought about what my friend said quite a bit and realized how often I take that same approach to more than just exercise. I realized I'd been keeping a list in my own mind, starting at a very young age, of all my failures and accomplishments in an effort to measure my worth & determine my value. Good at math, writing, running, flexibility, accepting others, humor, cleaning…yoga. Bad at public speaking, negotiating, holding my tongue, reaching out, basketball, having patience….life decisions. The “bad” list of course always wins. How could it not, when the whole point of making such lists includes such severe criticism & judgement of oneself?

Who Decides What's Good or Bad?

Why is it that we measure ourselves in “good” and “bad” so often? How do we determine who is good at this, or bad at that? More importantly, how do we cultivate a sense of self-worth that is strong enough to combat this type of thinking, especially when it’s so tightly interwoven with our accomplishments!?

As we spoke, I reassured my friend that there is no being "good" or "bad" at yoga. There is simply "practicing" yoga, which includes learning when to push further and when to release and always remembering to be kind to our bodies. There is also goal setting, which may include anything from learning to quiet your mind to working on a challenging pose – but there is no being good or bad at it.

Practicing Life Like Yoga

I want to practice life in the same manner I practice yoga. I want to try harder & push myself out of my comfort zone when it is appropriate. I want to give myself permission to stop and relax when I need to. I want to set goals, and just like I practice being kind to my body in class, I want to be kind to my whole self – mind, body, and soul, in life. I want to love myself for trying, even if I don’t succeed. Most importantly, I want to remember that this life isn’t a black and white list of accomplishments and failures. It's how many times I got back up when I was down. It's how many times I helped someone who needed it; how many times I let someone else help me. It’s how many times I showed up when I didn’t want to, and how many times I stayed home when I needed to. It’s in the time and energy I put in to my family, my friends, my job, my home, and my community. It’s in the many laughs and many tears that I have shared with people who have imprinted themselves in my memory and my heart. That's where the value is; those are the accomplishments.

The new year, 2021, is almost here. This year, instead of thinking in terms of good or bad, my goal is to practice life with good intentions, a grateful heart, and forgiveness for myself and others. Going forward I want to throw out the black and white list and practice enjoying life as a lovely shade of grey. I challenge you to do the same.

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