Level Letters: You Are Not Your Feelings

Once upon a time, I quit my job and signed up for Yoga Teacher Training. I didn’t exactly mean for both of those things to happen at the same time, but alas, it worked out.

From October to December of that year, I did a lot of yoga.

One day as class began, a teacher said,

“You are not your thoughts; you are the observer of your thoughts.
You are not your feelings; you are the perceiver of your feelings.”

In a hot, sweaty room full of mirrors, I had what Oprah might call an “aha moment,” and what I would call a moment of overwhelming grace.

For a long time, I dealt with a lot of–I’m still not entirely sure what word to use–sadness, melancholy, maybe depression? At some point, whatever it was snuck its way into my identity. I don’t know that anyone else would have described me this way. In fact, I really don’t think they would have. “Sad” wasn’t who I wanted to be, it was (mostly) not how I chose to behave, and it was never the only thing I was. But over time, it worked its way in to someplace deeper in me.

You are not your feelings.

How many times had I thought,“I am sad?”

I didn’t necessarily believe it would make much of a difference, but I did know I believed in the power of the words we choose, so I decided I would speak to myself differently. I would try, “I feel sad,” not “I am sad.”

It sounds so simple, and perhaps like not much progress. Still sad, right? Quickly though, I realized maybe the countless times I had said–however quietly, however privately, however internally–“I am sad,” had actually made an impact. Tell yourself you are anything enough times, you may be surprised how well you rise (or sink) in agreement.

Changing the words I used was not a magic bullet. It didn’t lift me instantaneously into a consistently overjoyed human being, but it did remove a huge obstacle to making my way out of the muck; it shook the muck from my identity. It felt like weight lifting from my bones.

In a moment of grace, a simple sentence opened a door that I hadn’t previously known existed, and every moment after was a little bit different.


Have you experienced a moment that held a seismic shift in your thoughts, identity, beliefs, or self? I’d love to hear.

Mari Andrew’s Illustrations & Notes to New York (@bymariandrew)
You know the feeling when someone takes something you thought only you noticed and puts it into the words you couldn’t quite find? This is that. Truly lovely and relatable whether you call New York home, or never have. (I never have :))

The Libby App
Yesterday I discovered the joy of running while “reading” an audiobook. Libby is an app that works with your library card, so you can download books to your kindle, borrow audio books, and more. Super simple set-up and huge selection; especially helpful if your local library is closed at the moment!

Car-to-Car Coffee Dates
On a rainy day this week, a friend and I met for coffee, each in our own cars, parked facing a nice view, rolled down our windows and had coffee together. It was everything I needed and then some. Highly recommend.


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