“Bend, not Break.”
A yoga instructor said this in class the other day, “…so we will bend, not break.”
When the instructor said this, I realized I was annoyed and uncomfortable. “What does this saying mean to me?” I asked. I tried applying the phrase to moments in my life, evidence that I am capable of bending, not breaking. Upon reflection, I decided that for me, it isn’t always a good thing to bend and not break.
I understand in general what this metaphor is saying: be strong enough to handle any challenges (or opportunities!) that come your way. Sometimes these challenges are self-created, like New Year’s Resolutions. Others life just sends our way, like financial strain or the death of a loved one.
However, let me throw a wrench into this view of “bend, not break.”
Some of the most transformative moments in my life have been when I stopped bending and I broke.
My personality lends itself to bending to keep the peace. I’m the ultimate Gumby. This is a blessing and a curse. It allows me the patience of a saint. It also makes me bend to other’s needs before I straighten up for mine. What I’m trying to say is, for me “bend, not break” is another way of saying, “I have no boundaries.”
And I know boundaries are important. I briefly researched “boundaries” on the web. What came up first were a bunch of articles like, “21 Examples of Healthy Boundaries in Relationships: #1 Saying No.” I had a visceral reaction to run away and I stopped the investigation. So, I guess I need to work on this “boundaries” thing. I’ll save that for another article…
Since I have no boundaries, I find myself bending and bending and bending until I look like a pretzel instead of Heather. I tend to break when I realize that, if I continue, I will lose myself completely.
However, it isn’t really healthy to have to break before setting a boundary. I know from experience that when I break, people often feel like they were suddenly smacked in the face by what they thought was a teddy bear but was instead an explosive device and the clock was ticking. They do not see it coming.
And why would they? Up until that very second, everything had been going great, then BOOM!
So, I guess I do need to learn to bend and not break. I guess the yoga instructor is talking directly to me when she says, “Create the strength to bend, not break.”
I just have to figure out what “healthy bending” looks like. I’m able to do “healthy bending” in yoga. I know when to stop to keep myself safe. How can that transfer healthy bending from the mat into my day-to-day life?
Guess I’ll start by practicing boundary example #1 – Saying, “No.”
What does the phrase “Bend, not Break” mean to you? Does it make you think of moments in your life?