Fear again

I’ve written on this topic many times here.

I was chatting with a new client this weekend and fear came up yet again.

It wasn’t till after the call was done and I had time to think, that I realized how applicable to my own life the words I imparted to her were.

This young client had an exceptional ski racing season two years ago. Last winter she felt the pressure of her own expectations take over and became focused on results instead of trusting herself to ski the way she can.

That’s a big statement coming from a 14 year old.

Great insight isn’t it? She did well in training but come race day she couldn’t seem to put things together. The good news is this is a common challenge and the tools I gave her will help her tremendously this winter.

Her being scared came up at least three times during our conversation. She wasn’t comfortable with speed and going fast. Gates coming at her rapidly in slalom unnerved her as did laying down solid slalom runs.

We talked about fear. She expressed how irrational it was to be afraid of gates coming at her face. I normalized her experience and said all humans have that natural reaction and that her confidence will come with mileage in the gates. Exposure to gates coming at your face is the only way she’s going to move through this fear.

Speed and going fast is a fear that presents itself naturally. I freaking loved speed but I’m sure my first few runs on those big fast skis were unsettling. Again, I normalized things for her and encouraged her to use her body as a tool to combat her fear. Instead of getting in the back seat and being hesitant, to charge and throw her body forward.

Our bodies can alter our feelings. Taking an athletic stance and what I like to call a hero pose of hands on hips, breathing and really feeling that confidence flow are so empowering. It’s another tool I gave her to use, one I think will have a big impact on her.

We talked about the importance of positive thinking. It’s impossible to be all rainbows, puppy dogs and unicorns all the time but instead being aware of your mindset. What are you saying to yourself?

When I do group workshops I poll the kids about their mindset. Is it 50-50 positive and negative, 70% positive, 30% negative or the reverse? It’s fascinating to see where kids lie in the spectrum and it gives me an indication of where they need to focus.

The first step in shifting mindset is awareness of what you’re actually saying to yourself. Questioning the veracity of your perception and then shifting it towards a more positive outcome.

When a negative mindset pattern has been operating for a while, it’ll take a tremendous amount of attention, energy and work to affect change. Like I tell my clients, it’s taken you a while to walk into the woods, it’ll take a while for you to walk out. Patience and gentleness are key.

What struck me afterwards was how this call applies to my own life.

I just recently started a new job and I love it. I get to write and help people with my words. I feel part of a family in the team I work with.

You’d think I’d be happy right? I was, briefly. Then self-protective, survival mechanisms took over and I drove myself into a state of anxiety so bad I could barely breathe. I was waiting for the other shoe to drop. Is that productive thinking? Hell no.

Did I go there? Me? Someone who teaches positive psychology for a living? Yup.

Fortunately my people are close by. It only takes a phone call or a text and I’ve got someone telling me what I need to hear and bringing me back to the here and now. Reminding me to breathe, to slow my thoughts down and to question the veracity of what I’m feeling.

Feelings are not facts my friends.

I love what I do. I’m good at it and I’ve had messages from the people I work with of just that, yet I don’t trust myself to shine.

In times like these, it helps me to look at things from another perspective. What would I say to one of my clients if they were feeling this way?

I’d remind them to breathe. I’d tell them they are safe and okay. I’d ask them to list the things they like about themselves and focus on their strengths. I’d ask them to draw the lessons they needed from their past experiences and not let their past dictate their present.

Those are exactly the words I’ve been saying to myself when that four letter word called fear crawls into my brain space.

Fear means false evidence appearing real or face everything and rise.

It goes to show how powerful our minds are. It’s so important to guard our mindsets. They create the world we live in.

 

 

 

 

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F.E.A.R.

I’ve spoken on this topic on this blog before.

This blog post has been percolating in my mind for some time and today I came face to face with a very sad human fear response.

I have my blood taken on a regular basis for health reasons. Today as I was chatting with the person behind the counter at the clinic a mother and young daughter came in. The daughter was crying. It was their second attempt today to get her blood taken.

I immediately went into coach mode, explained what I did and told the mom that I had tools that could help. They were ushered quickly into the room were blood samples are taken. I asked the mom to tell her daughter to take deep breaths. She said if she needed my help she’d come get me and left it at that.

I chatted some more with the person behind the desk and finally went into the treatment room because a colleague came to get her. They were having problems with the girl.

I again went into coaching mode and got down in front of the girl who was very upset and crying sitting on her grandfather in the chair to give blood. I explained what I did and introduced myself. I normalized the situation by explaining that it was okay for her to be afraid.

I got her to calm down somewhat by closing her eyes and breathing. Big deep belly breaths through her nose with her hand on her belly. Then I asked her to go to her happy place in her mind.

It turned out it was Dairy Queen which was awesome. I asked her what her favorite flavor of ice cream was. She said chocolate, “good choice” I said. I asked her to think about going there with the people she loved in her family. She was almost there, she lifted up her sleeve and as the technician got ready she went back into her head and panicked.

Poor kid. No amount of cajoling, rationalizing or threatening from staff or her mom would help.

One of the staff suggested I go ahead and get my blood taken and the girl could watch. I asked her what her biggest fear was. Was it the needle? The blood? I encouraged her and told her she was almost there when I had coached her. She couldn’t give me an answer.

I said I didn’t like needles either and was in often to get my blood taken and looked away.

We tried using music and a phone to distract her, she would have none of it.

Poor peanut. She had bad stomach cramping and was getting a battery of blood tests done to determine what was going on. The technician asked if the pain of her cramps was bad. The girl replied in the affirmative and the technician tried to explain that it would be like a pin prick and she would feel very little in comparison.

I felt sorry for the family. They would have to try again and it would get worse in the girl’s mind.

I did what I could, but unfortunately I was not able to get her to calm down enough to have her blood taken. A lot of mental training is required to get to that chair, there is just so much that can be done in a crisis. The poor mom had no idea as this was the first time they were getting her blood taken.

I spelled fear intentionally in the title. I have spoken about the acronyms here before. False evidence appearing real or face everything and rise. I wish I had more time with the girl to get her through this experience.

There is nothing I can do now to help but send that family love and light.

Take care sweet Laurie.

 

 

 

 

Recovery

Where to begin?

This is the most honest, soul bearing post I have yet to write.

My parents have come and gone on their annual visit. For most, this is likely a happy event. Not so much for me.

You see I grew up in alcoholism.

In a high functioning family, very driven and accomplished. From the outside everything looked good. On the inside, not so much.

I knew from a very young age that something was very wrong.

I won’t go into details here but suffice it to say that it’s a miracle I’m still here. What I have been through and then later in life, done to myself is horrific, painful and sad.

I’m a grateful member of Al-Anon. It’s a 12 step program for families and friends of alcoholics. I’ll be in recovery for the rest of my life because I know how dangerous it is to stray away from the fold, my program and my sponsor.

I had a slip this winter. I went back to old coping mechanisms and come spring realized the power of my self-destruction. I rarely do things in half measures. It’s a hallmark of this dis-ease.

I’m picking up the pieces now yet again.

I thought when I had walked through the doors of Al-Anon three years ago that I had hit rock bottom. Little did I know that I would be hitting several more rock bottoms. The fellowship and my program saw me through all these moments.

I’m there once again. I’m slowly coming out of it.

I’m heading off to a treatment program for codependency and family of origin issues. I’ve been in therapy in some shape or form for a large part of my life and from a very young age.

I believe in the healing power of therapy and especially group therapy. There’s something magical that happens when strangers come together and listen to each other’s stories and pain. There’s validation that I’m not crazy. That I’m simply a spiritual being living a human existence. As we all are.

There’s a letting go. A normalization happens. Secrets come out. Monsters fade away. Light is shed on the most painful topics of this very human existence we all share.

There is laughter and tears. Joy and pain. Exhilaration and suffering.

This is a great big gift and a reminder to place the focus on me and my healing.

I’d like to say that the visit I had with my parents was a good one. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. There were a lot of good parts, however, there were some truly awful pieces that have left me gutted and gasping for air.

The level of denial, manipulation, control and abuse in my family is staggering.

I feel like a martian because I’m the only one in recovery.

I have yet to find the gratitude that others in the fellowship have for the disease of alcoholism because all I can see is what it’s taken from my family and my life.

I hate the disease. I’ve been ripped open again by it and I despise it. I hate the toll it’s taken on my parents, my brother and our estranged family.

My friends see courage and strength when they look at me. Right now I’m a mess as I type these words. All I can do is breathe.

All I can do is go back to basics and practice self-care. Sleep has been elusive again and I know that doesn’t help whatsoever. It makes things so much worse.

I’m trying really hard not to isolate and hide. I’m bumping up my meetings, making sure I get exercise, eat well and get out. I connect with my sponsors and touch stones and I am working the snot out of my program right now.

It’s all I can do until this heaviness lifts and lightness comes back.

I was reminded in readings today to act as if, to stick to a routine until it becomes more comfortable and normal again. Whatever normal is.

It’s huge to share this piece of me so publicly. This dis-ease has impacted every facet of my life and my business.

It is my greatest hope that as I progress through the step work that things somehow become easier. That there are less roller coaster rides, huge highs and devastating lows. Less darkness and much, much more light.

In sharing this story, I hope to impact others’ lives in some small way.

I hesitate to push the publish button.

Please be kind.

Thank you.

 

 

The itty bitty shitty committee

Ah the itty bitty shitty committee. You know the one I’m talking about, the negative voice in your head, the one that stems from ego that fills you with fear, negativity and anger. That voice can quickly gather a committee and become thunderous can’t it?

I was riding along the pathways a few weeks ago. I stopped in a gorgeous spot, near rapids. There was a man with a dog who was thinking about crossing in the shallow, fast running water.

He was sitting on the fence about the whole affair. I gently coaxed him to cross. The decision was his. His dog was more than happy to go in. He had the best footwear. If he got wet he’d have a refreshing walk home on a hot day.

Just as he started walking into the water another couple appeared. The man became this guy’s itty bitty shitty committee. I’m sure he was trying to be helpful, as there is a positive intention behind every action, however, he was the voice of fear.

He went through every possible bad outcome the man could encounter. He brought up the fact that his cell phone was in his pocket and on and on he went. At one point I actually told him to shut it.

There we were, the good angel and the bad demon on the shore while this man battled it out with running water, slippery rock surfaces and his dog.

What do you think he decided to do?

Take a guess.

He decided not to cross. If looks could kill, the bad demon would have been instantly blown away by yours truly.

Instead, I said to the man well maybe next time you’ll have the courage to cross without an audience.

What does that voice tell you? What real estate do you let it occupy in your headspace? How does it influence you on the daily?

Lately I’ve allowed that voice to take up way too much space in my head. No more. Oh I know it’ll still be there on the sidelines waiting to jump in, however, I will let all the good rush in. I choose to focus on the positive. Because there is plenty.

I have a good life. I am loved. Surrounded by amazing friends. A passion for sports psychology and a desire to help as many as I can in this one life. Live Natalie says the voice. Live fully. Don’t hide because you’re hurting. You’ll be ok. You are safe.

That’s the voice I choose. What about you?

Light shining

I am a dream seeker and a rebel. I’ve never fit a mold and if there was one, it was broken a very long time ago.

I care deeply about myself, my life and those who matter to me but mostly I am about making a difference in this one amazing life.

I wasn’t born to play small, and while life has tried to knock me down more times than I can count. I’ve picked myself up, dusted myself off and moved on.

I strive to live my life with the guts to be myself unapologetically.

Having guts means that I’m willing to risk and to go after what I love.

I stay up late and wake up early chasing dreams and making them happen.

I often find myself alone because of my choices, however, I know there are a whole lot of us out there striving to break free from the mold to be well-behaved women to be loved. I know because I’ve met them and can count them as mentors and dear friends.

I can’t follow the rules for the life of me. When given the choice, I will always follow the most difficult road because that’s where I learn the most.

I have to take care of myself. Who else is going to do it for me? I am the master of keeping my shit together even when it seems I can’t take another step.

I tuck myself into bed each night. It’s not because I don’t want a lover with me but because I know that unless it’s the real thing, solitude is so much sweeter than putting on an act.

I refuse to conform no matter how many times people shake their heads.

Why can’t I be like everyone else? Why can’t I stay in an unhappy relationship? Why can’t I stay with a secure job? Why can’t I suck it up because I’m an adult? Because that is what adults are supposed to do, isn’t it?

No. Hells to the no. I was born differently. Where others see stability, I see stifling.

I won’t give up on the desires of my heart.

I may seem to be wandering aimlessly sometimes, it’s all part of the plan. I may drive you crazy at times, and scare the shit out of you but life would be boring any other way.

Marianne Williamson said it best didn’t she?

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

I’ve lived this quote. I’ve inspired others to live this quote. I will continue on this path because it is the only way I know.

I get scared shitless sometimes. We all do. It is the measure of who we are to have the courage to continue. To believe in our dreams. To believe in our path. To awaken. I truly believe we are spiritual beings living a human existence.

Don’t you?

Self-imposed prisons

What’s a self imposed prison?

Einsten said: “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used to create them.”

That says something doesn’t it?

A self imposed prison to me means misery and being stuck. We are often our own worst enemies aren’t we?

What are our self imposed prisons? Fear, loneliness, a comfort zone?

One of mine is fear. Every time one of my client’s parents wants to talk to me my head goes there. It sounds a little like this: “That’s it, they are going to let me go.” With absolutely no evidence to the contrary, that’s where my mind goes.

I’ve been told fear stands for false evidence appearing real. Seems pretty accurate in this instance doesn’t it?

What would I do if I wasn’t afraid? What would be possible?

It’s food for thought.

Compassion

Compassion.

What does it mean to you?

Lately I’ve been challenged by finding compassion. Compassion for myself, my cat and those around me.

I grew up on a ski hill. Call it nature and nurture I turned into a ski racer. A decent one at that. Along the way I developed something called perfection.

Ski racing is a sport where hundreths of a second make the difference. Where I constantly sought to improve my strength, technique and tactics. It’s a sport where your mettle is tested.

I flew down hills faster than most people drive, constantly seeking speed and a winning line. I was a consistent podium finisher. Always pushing myself to be stronger, faster and smoother.

I lived for speed and for flying down courses with gates coming at you as fast as possible. Always seeking to shave time and to win.

Ski racing was my life and my job. I had teammates, some I liked, others I tolerated. On race day all that fell away. It was time. Time to put all the training I’d done along with mental preparation and make it happen.

Sometimes it did. Sometimes it didn’t. Always I learned. I watched my competition’s lines. I ran the course in my mind and in my body countless times. When the starter counted down I was like a tiger, ready to fly. To lay it all down and give it my all.

That drive is still in me. The passion too. I constantly seek to learn, to better myself and to be the best me I can be.

Sometimes compassion is lost in the process. This hardness appears. The itty bitty shitty committee activates. Sometimes I can pull myself out, sometimes I can’t. I call it the swamp. That icky place where fear, anxiety, sadness and negativity lie.

I coach my clients on how to pull themselves out of that space. To reach for a branch. To grasp at something positive to draw themselves out.

I tell my clients there is no such thing as perfection. It’s something we create to punish ourselves. To keep ourselves stuck. It’s a terrible weight to carry.

I teach them there is no such thing as failure, only feedback. I ask them to highlight what went well and what was challenging. Then I ask them to draw lessons they can take with them the next time they are faced with an experience.

In the end, I am teaching them compassion. Compassion for being human. We are spiritual beings living a human existence. I fundamentally believe that.

My clients give me the opportunity to reflect on the words that come out of my mouth. The chance to apply those lessons to my own life. They give me just as much as I hopefully give them.

I love what I do. I value the trust parents and my clients put in me. It is the greatest gift to be able to work with young humans who never cease to amaze me. It’s my juice.

Heart full.