Does This Opinion Matter to Me?

Can we all admit that feedback is the fucking worst? Ok, so maybe it's not the worst, but its totally uncomfortable. And yes of course feedback makes us better, it takes us out of our bubble, its helps to show us other perspectives, yada yada yada. But it's still frustrating, it can definitely still make us feel like we've been doing things "wrong."

So first of all, we need to remind ourselves that the world is cut in half into "rights" and "wrongs." It's also crucial to understand that what is right for some isn't right for all, even if you respect someone their opinion doesn't have to make or break you.

But thats how it feels, right? Someone you admire gives you constructive criticism and suddenly your confidence is shredded, you're a puddle of used-to-be-person. How could you have ever thought (fill in the blank) was a good idea? You should pretty much just give up.

Now that we've gotten the melodramatic overreaction out of the way, let's actually unpack some of this shit.

Learning how to receive criticism is a skill that takes a long time to hone, possibly even a lifetime. In fact, I know very few people that I would consider good at receiving feedback (and i am most certainly not proficient). And often our ability to receive is directly related to the other person's ability to give good feedback. 

All of that aside, even if you're shit at getting feedback that doesn't have to be another thing on your ever-growing list of things to work on. You can have your reaction. You can feel defeated when someone tells you how to fix yourself. You're allowed to feel like you're standing naked in a room having all of your flaws pointed out for the world to see. And guess're not alone in that either. 

I think whats more important is what we do once we pull ourselves back together. How do we take the feedback we were given and integrate it into our lives? A friend of mine, Regan Walsh, wrote a blog recently about recovering confidence after someone gives you negative criticism (it's a great resource, you should read it).

One of the things she touches upon is to consider the source. I cannot stress enough how important this is. But more than just how much you respect the feedback giver or how knowledgable they might be...consider them as a person.

Are they impossible to please? Do they "get" what you're trying to accomplish? Are they generally negative or nit-picky? Do they have a vested interest in throwing you off your game? (I know we'd all like to think that the last thing doesn't happen...but there are all kinds of people out there and sometimes their intentions aren't entirely honorable).

But you should also think about yourself as a person too. Does the opinion that was given to you really matter? Even if your respect the person, even if it was given with the best of intentions, does that opinion matter to you? Can you implement that feedback and still be yourself? If you're constantly taking on the opinions of other people can you stay true to who you are? Are you just a Frankenstein's monster of other people's creation?

I know it might feel like I'm just throwing more questions at you, but these are all really important things to think about. We focus so much on how to gracefully receive criticism, but thats assuming all feedback is good feedback (spoiler alert: it's not).

Since we're on the subject, let's talk about the feedback itself, the object of this whole conversation. Because even if you respect the feedback-giver, even if it fits into your narrative, does it align with what you're trying to achieve? If it doesn't, does it make sense to you to change directions? Do you think it will make you better? 

And LASTLY (I mean it), just because someone wants to give you feedback it doesn't mean you have to take it. When they ask, "Can I give you a few suggestions?" YOU CAN SAY NO! I know, that's fucking crazy, who would have thought? You can say: "No thanks, I'm good" OR "Wow, I really appreciate you offering, but I got it" OR "That's really kind of you, but I'm not ready to take feedback yet."

We all have room for growth...but you get to decide when/how/why. 

Melissa Petty
What Do I Need To Hear?

I'm going to be totally honest with you: the new branding is nothing like I'd imagined. When I met with our designer Kate Davis I told her all of the things that I wanted the brand to feel like, but as far as the design went I gave her total freedom. Of course I had visions in my head inspired by logos I'd seen, other brands I keep up with--but I'm no artist, so I let Kate do what she was hired to do. 

She came over to my house one night about 6 weeks ago to show me the first set of logo options. Again, I thought I had a general idea of what she was about to show me. In case you haven't caught on yet--I was dead wrong.

The designs she showed me that night were sharp and intelligent and alive. They weren't what I was imagining because they were fresh. The last concept she showed me that night was the one you're looking at. When she flipped that page over I'm pretty sure I audibly gasped. I didn't know at the moment why I loved it so much, but over the course of following weeks I realized that the logo pivoted how I approached the whole project

When I first started the rebranding I was looking at it from a place of "how can I fit in but also stand out in the community?" But once we chose the design direction I started to see myself in it (something I thought I didn't want). In fact, I operated the first year owning the studio trying desperately to not stand out personally. I wanted to appeal to everyone. What do the people want to hear?

I've never seen myself as being "cool" or "hip" or "trendsetting", so I thought I had to take my cues from those around me. But here's the thing: trying to be cool is not so cool, right? It's like when your teacher called you dawg in high school, or your mom tried to talk to your friends: embarrassing and cringe-worthy.

As the pieces of the puzzle came together, and I saw Kate and our Photographer Morgan Whitney interpret my little ideas into masterpieces, the more I realized that I had a perspective worth sharing. I started to ask: What do I need to hear? 

I am super type b, like the-type-b-est-kind-of-type-b, though I like to think of myself as a relaxation specialist. ANYWAY! The type-a intensity in the world right now is like "woah" and it is exhausting trying to keep up. But I was convinced that despite how unfamiliar and inauthentic that intensity felt to me that was what people wanted to hear. 

But, hi! how naive and narcissistic of me to believe that I am the ONLY type b babe out there? I had to admit to myself that there are other people out there like me. There are other people who want to approach life and yoga with a little less stoicism and ferocity and a little more humor and levity.

In sanskrit there's this concept lila (lee-la) which translates most directly to "divine play." It's the idea that you can connect with the Truth or God(s) or The Universe or whatever higher power you may believe in through playfulness and spontaneity. So basically, sign me up for more of that shit. 

I don't want you to feel like coming to yoga is an obligation or even a ritual. Personally, if something feels like a chore to me it doesn't stay in my routine for very long. I thought this was a personal shortcoming, an inability to commit, a lack of dedication. But, hey...I'm just a human trying to live my life. And I understand that you are too.

So here's what I want for myself and for you too:

I want you to come to practice because you WANT to come to practice. I want Thank Yoga to be a place where you want to be. I want you to feel like yourself here: happy, sad, frustrated, giddy, angry, confused, joyful--I want all of it. 

I want you to not give a shit about what you wear to yoga (or if the cute clothes are part of the appeal, thats cool too). I want Thank Yoga to be a place where you can laugh at my terrible jokes, or cry if you need to (hopefully not at my terrible jokes).

I want you to feel OK if you're struggling with a posture or life in general. I don't want you to thirst after certain poses (but I also want you to do whatever the fuck you want, so if you're thirsty be thirsty). I want you to know that your worth as a person is not connected to your productivity or abilities. 

I need you to know that I don't care how frequently you come to class. I want you to leave feeling better than you arrived, and if you don't I want you to know that that's ok too. I want you to be OK with just being OK. I don't want you to feel like you constantly have to chase profound experiences.

I want you to know that I'm grateful for you, even if you were rolling your eyes the whole time you read this or if something I said rubbed you the wrong way. 

I want you to know that no matter how comfortable or uncomfortable you are in life, we're right there with you (with confetti poppers or a hug or a bro-nod or whatever you need).

Melissa PettyComment