I had a couple of experiences lately that reminded me of just how much ego can get in my way if I let it. Luckily, I'm learning to let go (a little) more than I used to.
A couple of weeks ago, my regular yoga teacher could not make our class and she had a sub teach in her place. My regular yoga class is pretty gentle and beginner-friendly. The substitute instructor is a very fit guy that I know casually. He is that combination of strong, lean, and flexible that tends to end up in the pages of Yoga Journal. He did a class that was super-challenging, with lots of upper-body work and strength-intensive poses. I felt myself getting frustrated and upset, and then I realized that I was being silly. No one but me cared if I couldn't keep up with everything he was doing. No one in the group could completely keep up with him. I felt suddenly free when I realized that I could just do what I could and let go of my fear that anyone would judge me. In the end, I actually enjoyed the class and felt proud of what I was able to do instead of focusing on what I couldn't.
I am also doing a strength class called "Extreme Interval" at my gym. It is sort of a circuit workout, again lots of strength and upper-body, plenty of pushups. The instructor of this class is fit even by fitness instructor standards. Yesterday, only two of us showed up so she could focus all of her attention on us. I was a little embarrassed because I was so sweaty and red-faced (I always look like this when I work out, whether the workout is hard for me or easy). I also was having some trouble keeping up. It was my first time back in this class after a summer where I hadn't done a lot of strength work. For once, I gave myself a break, even though I felt a little funny because the other woman in the class was so much thinner than I am. The instructor, unlike some other instructors, looked past the sweat and actually gave me extra weight in some of the sets. On my way out, I said something to the other woman about knowing that I will be able to do more next time even though I couldn't do it all this time. She said, "If you can't do it all, I know I can't." Here I had been feeling like she must have thought I was totally out of shape because I was resting in some of the sets.
I want to challenge myself, and that means not always being able to do every part of a workout. I would tell anyone else to just do what they could and know that they will get better, but I'm finally starting to tell that to myself, too.