Our "style" is the way we do every single thing: from our decision-making, to our learning, to our leadership, to our writing styles, style is the way we move through the world. But sometimes, along the way, we lose connection to our style.
Take me, for example. Some of my earliest memories are of clothes. In the first memory, I put a record on my Mickey Mouse record player. I cranked it up to my favorite song, "Teddy Bears On Parade." I closed my bedroom door and danced to the music while looking down at how my green-and-blue-striped alligator shirt moved with me. The whole set up with the record was for the love of a shirt.
And to this day, I remember how happy I felt.
I am willing to bet that every single one of us had a favorite shirt or a beloved pair of boots when we were little. And that we had our own way of celebrating this belonging—by stomping, running, twirling. Why don’t we feel that way about our stuff anymore?
The answer is simple: Our connection to our self-expression—our style—perfectly mirrors our connection to our authentic selves. And somewhere along the way, this connection to self breaks. It breaks when someone tells us that we are ridiculous, or that parts of who we are aren’t OK, or cool, or the norm. So we tuck away the “bad” parts of us. We second-guess our choices and our taste. We forget that we have our own unique way of moving through the world that includes not just our clothing choices but our work choices, our friend choices, and our financial choices as well. This can be so incredibly painful.
We can fix this disconnection to ourselves and begin to find out what our style looks like by learning "the yoga of style." When we learn the yoga of style, we learn to reconnect to our self-expression and our personal edge. It teaches us to reclaim ourselves and communicate who we are in all we do.
Through these three simple questions, we can learn how to proceed in our authentic style when faced with any choice.
When deciding between dresses for an evening out to dinner or job opportunities, ask the question: Does this feel true to me? We can even apply this question retrospectively, by asking ourselves if where we live feels true to us, if what we're wearing feels true to us. For most of us, the answer to this question is simple: I don’t know. We don't know what feels true because we've lost touch. So, to begin to know our answers, we look to what feels untrue. We feel lost when we are situated in a life filled with styles that are not true to us. We tend to stay stuck because we believe that our feelings of uncertainty are a normal aspect of adulthood. (While feeling uncertain or blah about life may be common, it is not normal. Or healthy.)
Here’s what we knew when we were kids, and what we need to relearn: that any feeling short of exhilaration is a symptom of conducting our lives in a style that is untrue to us.
We can feel physical freedom and exhilaration in every aspect of our lives when we make choices that feel true to us. When we’ve lost connection to our innate, personal style we often feel directionless in a life that contains too little purpose and meaning.
To reconnect to ourselves by reconnecting to our personal self-expression and our style, we must consider a simple question: Why?
Behind each choice, there is a "why." Why do I want this? Why do I want to wear this specific belt? Why did I buy this particular sofa? And does my “why” have anything to do with what makes me happy, and what I truly want? Is my "why" kind to me?
Here’s what my “why” usually sounds like: I think I’m going to paint my office. I think it would look nice to the people streaming video during my classes to see a bright, happy color behind me. I want them to feel uplifted from working together, and if the walls feel blank depressing, that’s not remotely uplifting. Plus, I’d enjoy it too.
My “why” sounds pretty OK, right?
Yeah, not so much.
Ultimately, my "why" puts my own preferences as an afterthought. In the famous words of Byron Katie: Whose business am I in? Possible answers are: mine, yine, or God's.
Have you ever done the massive closet clean-out that requires upwards of two-dozen garbage bags to capture all that needs discarding? (Or is that just me?) Because, I, for one, have done this large-scale clean out at least ten times in my life. That’s roughly two-hundred-and-forty Glad bags full of (in my opinion) very cool clothes cast out to make room for even more clothing. Which invites this question: Were all of those pieces really necessary?
Admittedly, when considering whether a style choice is necessary, I’m not the leading example. I was raised to keep everything—just keep it organized! In reality, this is not a good plan. Keeping stuff that is not true, kind, and necessary occupies space and energy that could be filled with better, more current-for-who-we-are stuff. I’m learning that when we clear out our space and keep only what is true to us, what is kind for us, and what is necessary for us, we create something transformative: We create a special magic that is known as potential for more, for even better, for our own evolution. When an item becomes “no longer necessary” for our lifestyles, it is time, for both us and the item, to let go. And, in case your tendency is to under-shop and under-furnish and under-commit to personal choices, then consider this: A synonym for “necessary” is “compelling.” When a writing project feels true to who you are, kind to yourself to begin at this time, and necessary or compelling to you, then that particular writing project matches your personal style.
The yoga of style guides us toward our true north, our calling. and our whole selves. The culmination of choices consistently made with the yoga of style builds a life that aligns with our most authentic selves. We deserve to have every aspect of our environment supporting our personal self-expression and truest selves.