I skied in the mountains for the first time in my life this past week.
While I’ve skied once before as a teenager on some lowly prairie hills, skiing is a fairly new skill for me.
Luckily, I had a professional ski coach in my party of travelers (this was an after retreat week to a series of national level board of director meetings) to get us novices set up. The first instructions he gave me on technique were essentially the same goals you would set for good hunter riding technique. A sport I was competitive in for a large section of my life. It got suddenly easier to coordinate after that skill transfer took place!
As I was going down the slopes I noticed fear.
It crept in with every new feeling under my skies.
The more it crept in the faster I seemed to go and the more I lost control. The faster it all came at me and the more unbalanced I felt. Which made it even more of a “shit shit shit” moment.
Until I listened to the little voice saying “chill the f out” (my intuition only continues to get blunter).
The last few years have brought me so many moments where the “simple” act of letting go of something (emotion, fear, people, history, expectation) has brought the pace back into control, clarity to my path, and coordination into actions.
Connecting the dots this week made me think of all the people I meet so stuck in fear.
Pain, depression, health problems, regrets, negative stress… all can be related back to fear (scientifically, for real).
Fear is engrained in our dna. We depended on it for survival, but now fear has taken on whole new meaning. No longer do we use it to spur the fight or flight response- we LIVE in a constant fight or flight state which creates paralysis.
Human nature is linked with shared fears.
Fear of being left behind.
Fear of not being loved.
Fear of the unknown.
Fear of what haunts us.
Fear of losing control.
Fear of FEELING, of discomfort, of pain.
That statement encompasses physical, mental, and emotional progress for so many people.
At this point in health we KNOW that emotional and mental states directly impact our physical states.
I used to be ultra competitive. When I was riding competitively my life revolves around pushing to be better physically and mentally. This went along with being a university student too. Life was constant motion. Intense exercise was therapy, riding was grounding, and school was terrifying in a good way. Working during this period was survival and sacrifices to my time and energy were the ingredients.
I had a chronic back injury that became so engrained in my competitive state it was anxiety inducing to not have it around when I was competing for a while.
After I graduated and had sold my competition horse (weird correlation in these couple years) I entered a awkward in between phase. My motivation behind intense exercise had disappeared and my mental drive turned towards finding new ways to survive in a way that didn’t drain me.
I found it. I started a business around it, and began building.
A different kind of stress.
Now survival wasn’t about structured sacrifice (work this schedule, complete these courses, intern at this location for x amount of hours), rather- it was a new level of pouring everything into my ideas with the complete understanding that I may receive nothing in return.
I understand now why many small businesses fail in the early stages.
Skills are one thing but having the resilience and blind faith to keep going with absolutely no guarantees of success is a whole new level of looking fear in the eyes.
Mid way through Uni I had a concussion that taught me depression and anxiety in a whole new way.
That experience showed me that giving name to our worst nightmares makes having a conversation with them easier.
Then you add in messy relationships, sacrificed social life, and an already rocky phase of life..
I broke my leg, I got so sick I was bedridden for a month and unable to handle any stress for a year after. I had to learn to be still.
I went through the pain of heartbreak on so many different levels with one person again and again.. and in that continued to go deeper into my fear of not being good enough, my deep desire to see others live their truths, and the realization that no matter what you do within yourself or for others it will not matter to anyone else until they’ve done the same for themselves.
In the end it’s all a mirror, and sometimes that reflection won’t change no matter how hard you look at it.
And that realization and act of release does not under any circumstances devalue the significant feelings you once had, and have for the history.
If anything, it honors all of it.
Remember with gratitude and send love to the pain inside yourself and in others.
(Absolutely no coincidence here that my broken leg and nerve damage healed at the same pace my emotional scars healed).
My motivation got stronger but in an entirely different way. I learned to let go of so many things and in those acts of letting go I had to let go of a specific way of pushing myself.
It wasn’t enough or functionally anymore to push harder and harder. I would get sick. Burn out. And my mom got sick of me calling her in hysterics bi-weekly.
I look at how I used to be obliging. To myself and with other’s expectations of me. Whatever was asked I would do it and do it competitively. It worked for that phase of my life.
Now… now I am motivated by potential but not by others and often not even by my own intrinsic words- not in the same way, anyway.
I’m more rebellious now. More apt to set impossibly high standards of others just to see if they will make the effort to reach for them. More likely to do the opposite of what someone says I “should” do. I did a complete sideways leap and had to learn how to get myself motivated differently.
I’m still competitive but my strategy has changed drastically.
I still work harder mentally and physically but I’ve gotten efficient with my energy.
I outsource to others to assist with pushing, healing, organizing, and brainstorming.
I am secure within my value, but in that realization I know that I can’t do it alone.
You can ask for help and not have to rely on others.
Where I used to pull from physically discomfort to ground me- I draw on all spectrums of uncomfortable now to learn from.
Fear doesn’t scare me anymore.
But I am grateful for experiencing paralysis due to fear, when it has.
I look at others telling themselves and everyone who will listen how they can’t do something they’ve always dreamed of doing and wonder if they ever think “what if..”.
That’s how it starts, isn’t it. A questioning of something terrifying.
Looking a little longer into that dark shadowed staircase of a “can’t” or “its always been this way” or “the doctor told me..” or “nothing has ever worked to change xyz problem, so I just have to live with it”.
It’s the examination of all those times your gut says.. is this right?
It’s the test that comes when you love yourself enough to walk away from something or someone that you love just as much.
It’s the realization that things happen for you, not to you.. (Ed Mylett quote that should become everyone’s mantra).
That everything in this world wants you to succeed and whatever you want to succeed at- but requires you to open up and run head first into finding that out for yourself. (Read: The Alchemist, no it’s not just fiction- it is truth).
As a movement specialist- I understand how valuable it is to be aware. There are times to push harder, times to let go, and times to remember how to breathe.
As a human just as much a wandering soul as we all are- I see now how it’s less about expectations and reactions, and much more about stepping back, sideways, and forwards to get a clearer perspective and taking what you need from any given situation and finding value to move onto the next.
The rest will sort itself out if your intentions TO YOURSELF are authentic.
If you don’t know where to start, start by reading books of any sort, spending time outside of your routine (go to the woods if you sit in an office all day, walk around the city if you spend all day in the woods), and spending time with people who challenge you to be better. Those you admire so much you almost want to run away from them. That TERRIFIED feeling is telling you something. Do not ever be afraid of yourself.
Intuition is only developed by listening without judgement, and inquiring honestly internally about everything.
I am far from fearless (nor do I ever want to be), but I am willing. The answer to how I do it?
I just do.