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My Worst Case Scenario

ashtanga fear worst case scenario yoga May 14, 2018

For every situation in life we can imagine a worst case scenario - sometimes a conversation goes drastically different than you’d hoped; sometimes workplace drama turns ugly; sometimes you break a bone or a window or a heart (or your own); sometimes you find yourself stuck with all your worldly possessions on the side of the 101 freeway in the rain because your movers showed up a week early with too big a truck to fit down your street.

Or maybe that one’s just me. But, either way, the story of rebooting my life started with what was basically my worst-case scenario. My movers, who had already been somewhat less than professional moving me out of DC, were more than a week ahead of schedule for the delivery to California. So, I changed my flight, packed my bags, and left without the chance to say many goodbyes or to let anyone in Encinitas know that I would be arriving early.

It was 7pm when they called to let me know that they’d sent a bigger truck than had been agreed upon, and that it wouldn’t fit down the street, so I rushed to rent some pickup trucks with my mom (thanks Mom!) and got back just in time for the movers to unload everything into the trucks and haul out of there, leaving us with two pickup trucks that were daunting.

It was dark and rainy and I had just been left on the side of the road with everything I own after traveling for 10 hours. What’s more, if basically everyone you know practices Mysore, there’s a good chance that you’re going to be totally out of luck if you ever have an emergency and need help after 8pm.

But sometimes, luck works in your favor - even in your worst-case scenario. Or maybe it’s not luck, but simple human goodness. Either way, I called in what I thought were some pretty big favors, and (thankfully) my friends showed up like it was no big deal, and we got the job done.

I had agonized over this move. I had lost sleep. I had been so worried that things would go wrong, and then everything went wrong. I was up against a worst-case scenario that I hadn’t even seen coming, and y’know what? It was… fine. Less than ideal, sure, but totally surmountable with the help of my friends.

Here’s the thing: You are always going to be where you are, and it doesn’t really matter where that is. Whether I’m in DC teaching or in Encinitas practicing, or on the side of the freeway in the rain with everything I own, it’s how I show up that counts.

It’s only our minds that make our fears seem insurmountable. There are plenty of reasonable causes for stress and for fear, but, when we’re actually up against them, all we can do is face them. When the hypothetical becomes real, all that’s left to do is deal with it (one way or another). Solve one problem at a time, and recognize how fortunate you are that you have the resources to do it. 

That said, plenty of the fears we all face every day are ambiguous and immeasurable and internal - thinking we aren’t good enough, thinking we’re never going to get what we want or get to wherever we want to be in life. And these beliefs don’t just hold us back from moving forward into the future, but drag us down in the present - where, more often than not, everything is pretty much totally fine. At the very least, I want to stop spending time focusing on the ‘what if’, worst case scenario my mind likes to imagine for every obstacle and save my energy for those times when something really bad does happen that’s not fixable with a trip to Home Depot and a couple of well-muscled friends. 

If we want to heal and grow, we have to start showing up for ourselves the way we show up for others and the way others show up for us. We talk so much about being grateful to ourselves for practicing, but what about gratitude for being there for ourselves all the time with a real sense of love and strength?

So now I want to start showing up for myself the same way Paul and Adam showed up for me on that miserable, rainy, exhausting night. They showed up in a way that made me feel protected and loved. They showed up like Hey, we’re gonna do some heavy lifting, and it’s going to suck for a little bit but we’re going to get it done and it just isn’t really a big deal

In every stage of my life, there’s been something or other that I was certain would ruin me. But here I am - I’ve made it through anyway. And so have you. And it’s going to take a lot more than our conjured up worst-case scenarios to stop us. I’m not here to feel overpowered by life but to feel empowered by it, the good and the bad alike. 

Every day, our brains try to lie to us and tell us how bad things are or how terrible they will be. It’s like Kapotasana - I set up, I check to make sure my feet are still there, I start to arch back aaand… I bail and come back up. And repeat the process once or twice more. My brain is there telling me that it’s going to hurt or that I’m not open enough, but I forget all about how scared I was when I finally just ignore those doubts and go for it. In that moment, I realize (or remember) that everything is basically okay - my feet are still there, my shoulders are open, my back is fine. And so there’s nothing else to do but just keep moving forward. Because it’s also not such a tragedy if I don’t nail Kapotasana. 

This practice has taught me that my brain is a big fat liar. All along, all the things that I once thought were impossible were just milestones waiting to be reached. We start in this practice with the physical because we have more control over that; once you realize you can do it, though, the confidence compounds and transfers to the rest of your world. You focus on the things you can control, and the things that truly matter.

If we don’t take what we learn on the mat and apply it to the rest of our lives, what are we doing all this for? Like with everything else in life, whether it’s moving or leaving my program or saying goodbye to friends or being stuck in the rain with all my possessions on the side of the road, when we’re finally up against our fears and stressors we can finally see that they’re so much worse in our heads than in reality. 

So, I got through my worst case scenario. It happened, and the “worst” wasn’t ultimately that terrible. I learned that perennial lesson that I have the strength both to show up for myself and to ask for help when I need it. The world kept turning. I survived. Everything is going to be pretty much okay. And even if my worst-case scenario was just as much of a disaster as I feared, it was a disaster that I grew from, that I learned from, and that left me feeling incredibly grateful for my friends and the fact that I had the resources needed to get through it.

Sometimes a disaster isn’t a disaster at all. Sometimes it’s a milestone that sneaks up on you and only becomes recognizable once you found your way through the fear.

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About Jen René

Hey there! I'm a dedicated Ashtanga teacher and fourth series practitioner. I'm also a Pilates enthusiast. I taught my first class in 2005. And since then I have learned lots of amazing tricks that can help you on your own yoga journey.


Connect with Me! @jenreneyoga