I believe that our challenge as human beings is to overcome the limitations of our body, our mind, and our emotions. Our soul wants to be expansive and limitless, yet in our limited reality we feel trapped. We feel trapped in a body that doesn’t let us express ourselves as freely as we’d like to. We feel trapped in our mind full of limited beliefs, negativity, distractions and excuses. And we feel trapped by fears and emotions that prevent us from being and expressing our true nature.
I’ve been experiencing the frustrations of these limitations recently, especially in regard to learning to snowboard. In my mind I know what I’m supposed to do, yet my body won’t do what I want it to. In my mind, I imagine snowboarding gracefully and powerfully down a white slope, yet when I’m standing at the top of such a slope, my fears and doubts prevent me from throwing myself fully into the experience. It has been a mixed bag of fun, challenge, frustration, hope, hopelessness, laughter, tears, and determination. Each time I go down to the mountain, I focus on a few specific things I want to do better, and limitations I want to overcome. My gym workouts are focussed on building strength and flexibility in specific areas’ of my body for improving my snowboarding.
Some of the most challenging things I’ve had to overcome are:
- Self-doubt. ‘Maybe I’m just not cut out to be a snowboarder. I just can’t get it! Maybe it is a young person’s sport and I’m just too old’. However, I’m managing to get down the slopes without crashing into (many) people, and without too many falls. I haven’t given up yet so in my mind I’m still winning!
- Comparing myself to others. Paul picked up snowboarding very quickly and has continued to progress, whereas I’m a lot slower. If I stop comparing myself to others, and improve at my own rate, I can be happy with my progress.
- Expecting too much of myself, and then beating myself up when I don’t measure up. If I set small goals and challenges each time and manage to succeed, then I can be grateful for each step I take rather than expecting I’ll be able to do it perfectly after only a few sessions.
- Being humble enough to ask for help. Admitting that I wasn’t doing very well and needed help was a challenge for me. I asked Paul and a friend for their advice, I watched snowboarding videos on YouTube, took my son and daughter down for a day to help me out, and followed my stepdaughter down the slopes, mimicking her turns. It’s all been very useful.
What I’m learning through this experience is relevant to any area of life that you want to improve. This is the cycle we go through that I’ve known for a long time, but this is the first time I’ve been so acutely aware of it:
- We become aware of an area of our life/business/health that we want to improve.
- We set a goal and get all excited about it.
- Then we start working towards the goal, and realise it’s a lot harder than we imagined it would be.
- We then either go through the frustration of having to learn new skills, overcome our fears and mental or physical limitations, or we decide that it was a bad idea and give up.
- We ask for help to overcome our limitations – hire a coach, consultant or therapist, or read books/blogs or watch videos from someone who knows how to help us to achieve our goal. If you get help from multiple sources, make sure they’re all on the same page!
- Stay focussed on the goal and work steadily towards it using the tools learnt from our coach, books, blogs and videos
- Celebrate your progress – acknowledge each step you take, even if you only acknowledge it to yourself.
Looking back over my life, I can see where I’d given up on goals because I got to the hard part and didn’t push through. My self-talk was ‘It’s too hard, I can’t do it’, and that would be that. Many times I’ve given up because I didn’t have the mental or emotional strength to face my fears or handle the frustrations.
I can also see from this cycle how many of my clients get to the ‘It’s too hard and I’m not doing very well’ stage and cancel their appointment rather than admitting their failings or lack of progress and asking for more help. Once I know what the limiting factors are with clients, I can help find solutions. Whether it’s a lack of routine, not liking the taste of the herbs, not knowing what to or what not to eat, what type of exercise to do and when to fit it in, or whatever else the challenge may be – these are all problems that I can help my clients overcome. The one’s who do break through this block often have a bit of a melt down, which I’m OK with, because it’s after admitting one’s weaknesses or failings that real progress begins (and I do have a box of tissues in my clinic).
One last note, if there’s something I’m super grateful for in regards to learning to snowboard, it’s that I already had a good level of fitness, and was already healthy and energetic and therefore able to cope with the physical demands of snowboarding and recover reasonably quickly from each day on the mountain. My fitness and stamina have also improved, and I have better abs than I’ve had in a long time!
My last words of advice with whatever challenge you’re struggling with are to start right where you are at this moment. What’s your next step?