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.