Emotional yoga: why are you embarrassed?

Emotional yoga:
why are you embarrassed?

Does someone’s behavior reflect on you?

I became a vegetarian in 1996, when I was 29. A few months later I was due to visit Hungary with my father. I didn’t occur to me that my vegetarianism could become an issue and I wondered – why are you embarrassed?

I had visited with my Hungarian father many times – but not in ages. In fact, it was my first trip since ‘the change’. I was looking forward to seeing what post communist Hungary was like.

My father balked. He literally said to me ‘you’re going to be finished with this vegetarian phase by the time we go to Hungary, aren’t you’! This was with the same tone that you might use with a 15 year old ‘you’re still wearing that black lipstick and black eyeshadow’! Apparently kids never do grow up.

We went to Hungary and it was fun – in spite of my father’s rumblings in advance.  I got gently teased by family friends and at every meal there was a consultation with the server in Hungarian to explain that I was a vegetarian. I always ended up with beautifully breaded and fried vegetables. This was 1996 – there were not a lot of vegetarians in Hungary, so delicious but not much variety.

I couldn’t understand why my father had got his knickers in such a twist and why he put quite a lot of pressure on me to mend my vegetarian ways. Then it hit me: he thought it reflected badly on his parenting that he could raise a child who became – shock / horror – a vegetarian.

Hungarian Emboidery
My grandmother embroiled the placemat and cushion cover. The box is from Transylvania.

Why are we embarrassed for other people?

I think we’ve all been embarrassed by our parents, especially while growing up and that we take that feeling into adulthood. Do you find yourself feeling responsible for the behavior of others? I’m not talking about anything outright shocking or dangerous – but something a bit eccentric or outrĂ© … like being a vegetarian. I’m an advice column junkie and  there are many columns written about this – especially concerning weddings.

In a sense it’s understandable – we’re not just used to societal norms but we also naturally cleave to those who are like us. So it’s easy to cringe at someone else seemingly embracing themselves. If that’s a spouse or parent or someone you’re close to it’s easy to feel like their behavior is a reflection on you. Why are you embarrassed?

It’s you not them – why are you embarrassed?

An important part of yoga is not just the physical practice – but also the mind body connection and the inner work. Yoga helps us dig into ourselves and know ourselves. We peel though those layers of assumptions and ‘shoulds’. Why did it make my father so uncomfortable that he had raised a vegetarian? Why would that be a failing on his part? When you notice these sorts of feelings well up, yoga helps you pause and understand these reactions and where the come from. Perhaps they are indication of more work to be done.

The more we understand ourselves, the more we can act rather than react and that can only help us live well. Yoga helped me do that – why not investigate how it can help you

I have a gift of journaling prompts to get you started.

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