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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Trust

Again it’s been a long while since I’ve written. Forgive me dear readers, life events in the past few months have taken precedence.

I was in the treetops on the weekend with a friend. An aerial park with ziplines and obstacles. I did not think twice about engaging in this activity. The first one in our group to go. I took on the cold metal bars of the high ladder, ready for whatever came my way.

The course was new to me. The first obstacle was a breeze with very little thought. The second, a set of moving wooden swings, where the goal is to cross by putting one foot onto the next swing suspended in midair with two lifelines between you and the ground.

I moved through the swinging obstacle swiftly. Midway through my brain caught up to me, with it came fear, doubt and if I had let it: paralysis. Thoughts came flying through my head: “This is scary and not so fun anymore.” “Can I do this?” “Am I going to be stuck here?”

As I moved on the committee engaged. You know the one. I have spoken of it here before. The itty bitty shitty committee. Thoughts popped up like: “OK that was not fun.” “Are there going to be more like that one?” “What if I freeze up and burst into tears and can’t move forward? What am I going to do then?” I had the perfect storm brewing.

Fortunately I chose my company well. My friend is tough, confident and more than capable of figuring things out. She’s also not prone to flights of emotion like I am. Half a dozen obstacles in I turned to her and said: “Why am I rushing through this like my life depends on it?” Her practical reply: “You didn’t have to go first.” Gee thanks, that’s helpful.

We had just finished a zipline and were on the ground. Ziplines are fun. I just have to make sure I remember to put my brake hand behind the pulley and not in front of it. Ouch.

The entire course took between two and three hours. We caught up to the group in front of us. All of a sudden the pace slowed. I started kibbitzing with the lovely woman in front of me and her daughter. I shared that my field is sports psychology and suddenly I realized the course was my mental training ground.

Trust does not come easily to me. I have been through significant life changes in the past few months. There have been many endings and losses to process. I am bruised, sore and still grieving on many levels.

I realized I was not doing a very good job of trusting myself or my equipment. We often teach what we most need to learn don’t we?

I pulled out my mental toolkit and started using some of the tools I impart to my athletes. I sang. A wonderful distraction method when something is not familiar to you. First in my head and then out loud. Why out loud you ask? Not because I have wonderful singing abilities but because I hold my breath.

I have spoken about breathing as a tool here before. Suddenly everything slows down. Breath connected to thought, connected to feeling and finally, to action.

I’d like to say things got easier as we went along. The reverse occurred. Fatigue set in. I don’t know about you, but I do not hang from my arms every day. Midway through my arms felt like jello with the shakes to go with. I also made the mistake of not eating properly before I left, energy dropped as a result and cold set in.

Luckily I was well surrounded. I had an excellent guide on the ground. He climbed up an obstacle and made things easier as I struggled across. The following zipline I started going backward because I did not have enough forward momentum. As I’m hanging off the obstacle, my arms screaming in protest, holding on, I am yelling for my treetop mate ahead of me. Thankfully she comes back and grabs me while I unceremoniously drag my caboose up onto the platform. Not fun.

Every now and again I’d stop and look around me. Here I was in the forest, surrounded by color, the smell of fall tickling my nose and the sun playing hide and seek with the clouds. I would look down and think to myself: “I would much rather be hiking right now.”

I tried to make the most of the outing. I’m sore and bruised in the strangest places today but grateful for the experience. I was able to trust myself enough to make it through while enjoying the company of those around me and the feeling of flying through the air surrounded by beauty.

Mountains

Here I am again after another long hiatus.  It’s not because I haven’t wanted to write, rather I’ve come to the decision to move this blog in another direction.  I’ve had a few comments from friends who tell me they learn from my posts.  I want to take a moment to thank them, they have spurred my desire to keep writing when I needed the impetus.

A lot has happened since I’ve last written.  My life has changed pretty dramatically for the better.  Sometimes you need to lose what you think is important  to focus on what really is.  I am grateful for the events of the past few months.  A new person has emerged: stronger, grounded, and yes, happier.

I had to lose a job and a relationship to really focus on me.  I will call them distractions, not because they weren’t important but because I wasn’t looking at what mattered.  Me.  My path.  My purpose.  I’ve always been the type of person to question why I’m here.  What’s my greater purpose?  How do I give back?  How do I use my gifts and skills to do the most good?  Do I sound like an idealist?  Maybe I am.  I believe there is a reason each of us is here.  I meet people who are searching, I can see it in their eyes.  They want more.  Others lay dormant and that’s ok too.  It is a choice.

So it is my choice to continue writing, searching and when I’m ready, to move forward in what it is that makes my heart sing the most.  I’ve named this post mountains because lately I have been climbing them both literally and figuratively.  It takes courage to keep going up a mountain on a path you’re not sure about, when you don’t know where it will take you or where you’ll end up.  Trust, courage, determination are necessary to keep going on your path.  I’m always amazed at how my body responds to physical activity, it’s like it knows, something takes over and I engage till the end.  Usually I feel better, something shifts and I feel clearer and more expansive.  The scenery on the way up makes it all worthwhile, it’s not just about getting to the top, it is a journey.  Very much like life.  If I apply a little bit of trust, courage, and determination to my life what can I accomplish?

We shall see won’t we?

Surrender

Surrender.  I remember I first heard the concept when I was doing work on myself.  A tough one to swallow for someone like me.  To accept where I am today in this moment, now, without judgement and resistance. To learn the lessons of my present circumstances.  To know I am exactly where I need to be.

What resists persists.  So I am laying down my defenses, tired of fighting, of trying to move forward.  Something is being worked out in me and in those around me.  I may not be able to identify it today, but I know it will bring me to where I need to be.

I can overcome not by force but by surrender.  The battle is fought, and won, inside me.  I must go through it until I learn, until I accept, until I become grateful and until I am set free.

I have to trust I am right where I need to be, and be grateful too.

Surrender.

Trusting

Today’s post is on being faithful.  The bedrock of any relationship is trust isn’t it?  Trust is what makes relationships grow, blossom and thrive.   Without it relationships just aren’t possible.  Trust is destroyed by someone who cheats.  I come back to the topic again because it is close to my heart.  I have to avow something very personal and be searingly honest here, by doing so I may be blowing any chance I have of ever finding Mr Right but here goes.  I have yet to have a relationship where I haven’t cheated on someone.  Now the circumstances surrounding those instances were not good, the relationships were going through a rough patch and I needed to assert myself.  Or so I thought.  I needed to know I still had it, that elusive je ne sais quoi.

When we go to another’s arms it is for a multitude of reasons isn’t it?  First and foremost I think intimacy is lacking, we’ve grown accustomed and lazy and all of a sudden an opportunity proffers itself and by jumping into it we somehow feel more alive.  I’ve been a mistress to a man for four years.  Four years.  That’s a long time.  During that time I still sought out relationships, mistakenly thinking such a thing could be possible while involved.  Not so.

It took me a long time and lots of therapy to figure out the circumstances surrounding my unfaithfulness.  I grew up with an emotionally unavailable father figure.  So I sought out my father in the men I dated.  The man I was a mistress to represents him and gave me what I thought I couldn’t get from my father.  On another level I simply believed I was not worthy of being loved, of a good relationship and of happiness.  How things have changed.  The blinders removed.  The trust and love I had to nurture in myself before I could love another.  It’s still an uphill battle and there are days when I slide but they are far less often and I genuinely believe I deserve to truly be happy and loved.

There the skeletons are out of the closet, exposed to the light.  Please don’t judge me too harshly.