Conscious Incompetence

You know those moments where you’re in a situation – like the first day at a new job, a moment before a big presentation, or trying a new sport –  and you suddenly realize “Holy F**k, I have no idea what I’m doing!”

For me it happened after graduating from my 200-hour yoga teacher training; when I was newly single navigating the NYC rental market; and last Thursday.

I’ve had an SI joint issue for 4+ years. (The SI joint connects your sacrum to your hip on either side). Some people call the sacrum the keystone of your body, and boy do I know why. It’s affected everything from my feet to my legs, psoas, back, neck and shoulders and even my digestion and anxiety.

I was having a particularly bad day on Thursday.  I went to see “my guy” and begged him to help me with the pain.

He spent an hour having me do all sorts of exercises for muscles I’ve heard of, but never cultivated a relationship with.  We worked on breathing from my diaphragm and he nitpicked the smallest parts of my posture (hello collar bones).

I could see glimmers of feeling better. At the same time, I was mentally beating myself up. Here I was – a yoga instructor teaching others about their bodies – and I felt like I knew nothing about the body I’ve been living in for 33 years. I became acutely aware of how little I knew.

That moment of becoming conscious of your own incompetence is a grueling one. You want to throw in the towel, hide under the blankets, or have a glass of wine. Well, at least that’s what I want to do.

Unfortunately, none of those were options. Still in pain, I taught classes, sent emails and even showered and ate dinner, all while continuing to incorporate what I had learned as best I could. Oh yeah, and I cried too.

By bedtime I was in significantly less pain. Between that and talking to a few of my cheerleaders in life (sometimes you just need to be told you’re great!).

I realized I had two choices – I could either wallow in the fear of what I didn’t know or take another deep breath, give myself credit for what I already knew, and commit to learning the rest so that one day I could be consciously competent instead. So far I’ve chosen the latter.

–Allison Richard – Allison is a yoga instructor, writer and health coach specializing in helping people expand their yoga practice off the mat. She believes in living beautifully, loving magically and dreaming passionately. Check her out here , or follow her on Instagram.


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