Yogic Key to Freedom: Look Inward to Find Fulfillment

“Don’t take anything personally. Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering” – Don Miguel Ruiz

It’s natural to care what other people think of us. It’s part of our DNA. But when our need to fit in becomes greater than our level of self-acceptance we’re headed for suffering.

For many of us codependent or people-pleasing types, our value is linked to the opinions and approval of others. If people like us, we feel great. If they disapprove, we feel bad. From the outside, we look totally fine and happy. No one knows what we’re actually feeling because we’ve honed the skill of becoming what other people need us to be. But inside we are struggling to make it through the day.

Years ago when I was a full-fledged people-pleaser, one of my friends innocently said that my yoga class was a bit slow. (I was a new teacher at the time.) This neutral remark put me in bed for days. Eventually, I had to call my therapist and get help. During our call she said, “Joy, just because someone has an opinion about you, doesn’t mean it’s true.” 

Why I couldn’t figure this out on my own was a great mystery! But today I know that the neutral remark made by my friend instantly became layered with my own self-doubt, shame, and unworthiness. In fact, it took lots and lots of pain for me to be where I am now—confident and happy—and to truly love who I am.

Yogic Wisdom: Letting Go of Fear 

Older beginner yoga yoga students demonstrating how to practice mindfulness meditation

Osho says this: “The greatest fear in the world is of the opinions of others. And the moment you are unafraid of the crowd you are no longer a sheep, you become a lion. A great roar arises in your heart, the roar of freedom.” 

If you’re adjusting your life based on others’ approval or expectations, it may be time for some self-discovery (not just analyzing). Because you, like everyone else, deserve freedom. 

The great news is that freedom is actually your nature, along with confidence and joy. So it’s not as far away as you might have believed. It’s not something you have to earn or gain or find “out there.”

The spiritual practice is not about attainment, but about fulfillment. It’s the process of coming to experience (not just learn about) the fullness of who you already are. Yoga psychology teaches that If you knew who you were, you could be who you are, and would never suffer. 

Yogic Choices: How Do We Stop Caring What Others Think of Us? 

The big shift came in my life when I realized all of this unnecessary suffering was coming from within me—not at me. As long as our focus is out there, the pattern will continue. But when we shift our attention inward and commit to doing the work from there, we are at the place of power—and the source of all we want.

I am not talking about a quick-fix concept. Knowing this and taking action are two very different experiences. That is why the spiritual tradition, specifically yoga psychology, is anchored in daily practice. We can’t avoid it.

I recently taught a program dedicated to discerning how our thoughts, beliefs, and emotions play a big part in shaping our experience. For example, if I didn’t already believe I wasn’t worthy, my friend’s comment about my class being slow would not have had the negative impact on me that it did.  

But knowing this isn’t enough. More information won’t change us. It can inspire us, but it won’t produce the change we want. There’s much more to it, such as identifying limiting thoughts and beliefs, and then learning what to do about them; the power of choice and how to make a new decision; and the application of mastering your mindset. 

Julie Gudmestad, Yoga teacher, Yoga therapist, Assessment tools In yoga, Yoga and Anatomy, Yoga and Anatomy-based alignment

Reprinted with permission JoyStonecoaching.com

Joy Stone, writer, Yoga U contributor, wellness coach

Joy Stone is an experienced Mindset and Spiritual Life Coach, Speaker, and Educator. Joy’s special style of coaching uniquely blends essential & life-empowering teachings from eastern and western psychology & philosophy. She is the founder of Soul Subscription, An Online Soul-Centered Group Coaching Experience. Her emphasis is on teaching people the empowering practice of self-care and personal responsibility.

She received her positive psychology education under Harvard Professor, Tal Ben-Shahar, Wholebeing Institute, and her yoga teaching certification under the Anusara style — a therapeutic application of yoga psychology and practice. 

Read her new book- If I’m So Spiritual, Why Am I Still So Anxious?: The Soul Seeker’s Guide to Reclaim Your Joy.

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